The Commission consists of three (3) members appointed for a five (5) year term by the Head of State, upon recommendation by the Public Services CommissionAppointment Committee consisting of-
➢ The Prime Minister;
➢ The Chief Justice;
➢ The Leader of Opposition;
➢ The Chairman of the Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Appointments;
➢ The Chief Ombudsman.
as provided by Section 190 (2) of the National Constitution.The PSC being a constitutional office is guaranteed its independence under Section192 of the National Constitution in performing its constitutional functions and responsibilities.
Prior to a major reform of the National Public Service in 1986, the Commission had the executive and administrative powers relating to, or dealing with all executive or administrative and personnel matters in the National Public Service and was known as the Department of Public Services Commission (DPSC). The Commission also had the right under the Constitution at that time to be consulted by the National
Executive Council (NEC) for is views on the appointment of Heads of Departments in the public service.
Although the Commission had the right at the time to be consulted on the appointments of Departmental Heads and Heads of government agencies, the NEC, legally was not bound to act on the expressed views of the Commission, and some of the appointments at the time were essentially political in nature, as the NEC basically, had the discretion or prerogative over the matter of the appointment. The
Commissions views given in the consultation process, in some cases were not taken into account or simply ignored and some appointments were not made on merit (or not merit based), but rather made on the political considerations or on other ulterior motives.
The public service reform in 1986 saw the abolition of the DPSC and the establishment of the current Commission with its new semi-quasi-judicial review function. The then Commission’s executive and administrative powers and functions were given to a newly created Department of Personnel Management (DPM) – this included power over personnel matters, e.g; appointment, promotion, disciplinary, etc. The Commission was made a semi-quasi-judicial body to conduct reviews into personnel and organizational matters under Section 191 of the National Constitution3with the right to be consulted on matters, the Commission could only make recommendations – its review decisions were not legally binding. As a result, most of its review decisions were not implemented by Departmental Heads and Heads of government agencies that were subject to the review jurisdiction of the Commission at the time.
The Government of the day, at the time, then realized the need to strengthen the role of the Commission in appointment, revocation of appointment and suspension of Departmental Heads, Provincial Administrators and Chief Executive Officers (CEO’s) of Regulatory Statutory Authorities4 as well as its role in the Review of Personnel matters (as defined by Section 1945 of the Constitution). Through a Constitutional Amendment in 2003, the Commission was empowered to conduct merit-based assessments on candidates or applicants for the positions of Departmental Heads and Provincial Administrators and to make appropriate recommendations to NEC on the issue of suspension or revocation of appointment. The amendment also made the Commission’s decision on review of personnel matters (under Section 191) of the National Constitution and Sections 18 and 19 of the Public Services (Management) Act 1995 (as amended) legally binding (after 30 days of its making) rather than being merely recommendatory in nature. And through further amendment to the Constitution and the enactment of the Regulatory Statutory Authorities (Appointment to Certain Offices) Act 2004 (the RSA Act) the appointment, suspension and termination of Chief Executive Officers (the CEO’s) of RSA’s also became subject to the recommendation of the PSC, following merit-based assessment (Sections 208A and 208B of the Constitution).
The procedures for appointment, suspension and revocation of appointment of Departmental Heads, Provincial Administrators and CEO’s of RSA’s are provided for under Sections 31A, 31B, 31C and 31D (for the Departmental Heads) and Section 60, 60A, 60B and 60C (for Provincial Administrators) and Sections 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 and 10 of the RSA Act 2004 (for CEO’s and Provincial Administrators) and under the procedures the Commission has the powers, (and was required) to conduct merit based assessments on applicants for appointments to conduct investigations (for suspension or termination) and to make appropriate recommendations to the National Executive Council.