The Secretariat provides technical assistance for institutions with public responsibilities and helps member countries improve the performance of their public services.
We provide technical assistance services to member countries to enable them to develop critical structures, systems, institutions and human resources for public sector administration and development. This includes training courses that develop human resources; workshops that review policies and launch new initiatives; and advisory missions that help with national policy formulation and implementation.
The Secretariat also provides long and short term technical assistance through special consultants and volunteers to member governments and regional organisations. In a given year, some 200 specialists are in the field in developing countries throughout the Commonwealth. Experts conduct assignments that range from a few days to two or three years. These experts supply skills, fill gaps and help countries achieve national capacities, set up systems and train local counterparts.
What is public sector development?
Public sector development is about building up a government’s ability to govern and deliver public services more effectively. It involves developing a government’s present and long-term capability in public policy, management and administration, as well as their relationship with civil society and private sector institutions that have public responsibilities.
What is governance?
We view governance as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It enables governments to achieve goals which will benefit the public by promoting the principles of accountability, transparency, predictability and participation in the institutions and processes that regulate the public domain.
What do we mean by the ‘Digital Divide?’
The digital divide refers to the gap between those people with effective access to digital and information technology, and those without access to it. This divide can be within communities and countries, and between states.
What is south-south co-operation?
It is assistance provided by one developing country to another.
What do we mean by a public institution?
A public institution includes the different units, departments and ministries of government, plus other types of non-governmental organisations with public responsibilities that receive all or the majority of their funding from government. For example, a university is typically a private, not-for-profit institution that is largely funded by government and serves a public purpose under founding legislation.
What is the Secretariat’s role in this area?
We provide technical assistance to Commonwealth countries on demand and policy advice in response to mandates given to the Secretary-General by Commonwealth Heads of Government.
What do we mean by technical assistance?
Our technical assistance involves:
What areas do we provide policy advice on?
Our policy advice ranges from specific and often ‘one of a kind’ problems to global issues including how a government can meet international standards or address regional or global problems like combating corruption or responding to natural disasters.
How can this assistance be accessed?
The Secretariat implements projects in response to requests from member countries. Each country has a Point of Contact that acts as a focal point for assistance for their country and channels these requests through our Governance and Institutional Development Division.
How is our assistance provided?
The Secretariat uses a variety of methods to provide Commonwealth countries with the integrated technical assistance they require such as advisory and consultancy services, training, technical assistance through the placement of long, short term or volunteer experts as well as through research and publications.
What is the Secretariat’s long-term goal?
The Secretariat’s long-term goal is that every Commonwealth country will have effective public administration that supports an appropriately balanced system of democratic governance, economic competitiveness, social cohesion and environmental sustainability.
Where does funding for this work come from?
The budget for our public sector development work is around £8 million, which is allocated from the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation. This is a voluntary fund where members contribute resources according to their ability and draw on them according to their needs.
What do we mean by capacity building?
Experts have defined ‘capacity’ as the “ability to perform appropriate tasks effectively, efficiently and sustainably.” The Secretariat’s capacity building work aspires towards ensuring that individuals, organisations and countries in the Commonwealth have sufficient ability to perform their respective goals in a sustainable manner. For example, in Namibia, the Commonwealth helped develop the aquaculture sector which has the potential to boost export earnings. Developing the country’s ability to manage and plan in this area and expanding the activities around the unpolluted waters off the coast of Namibia are two main aims of this capacity building project.