GSS Board Chairman, Prof. Francis Duodoo

The Board of the Ghana Statistical Service has attributed its decision to ask the Government Statistician, Dr Grace Bediako, to proceed on leave, to her poor management of some projects run by the Service.

The Board said a group of international partners comprising the World Bank, EU, and DFID who assessed the performance of the Service threatened to withhold funding to it.

A statement signed by the Board Chairman, Prof. Francis Duodoo, said the observations of the partners chimed perfectly with the Board’s own previous concerns.

The statement said in line with the Board’s efforts at restructuring the Service, Dr Bediako had to be asked to proceed on leave.

It added that while the Service was performing poorly, “Conversely, the international partners praised the delivery of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), which had the Deputy Government Statistician, Dr. Nyarko, at its helm.”

This explains the Board’s decision to ask Dr Philomena Nyarko to act as Government Statistician.

The statement denied claims that Dr Bediako had been forced out to allow for a manipulation of the census results for political purposes.

Read below the entire statement issued by the Board of the Ghana Statistical Service.

GHANA STATISTICAL SERVICE
Leader in the Production of Official Statistics in Ghana
PRESS STATEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Accra–January 26, 2012 (Statistical Service)

The attention of the Governing Board of the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has been drawn to misrepresentations of our actions in The Chronicle of January 24th, 2012, that received further mention in various other media, including yesterday’s Daily Guide, which erroneously purport to explain the Boards appointment of Dr. Philomena Nyarko to act in the stead of the Government Statistician, Dr. Grace Bediako, as the latter initiates her leave.

Among the host of inaccurate attributions were the suggestions and indications that:

– The Government Statistician is being hounded out of the Service

– She was replaced because she would not accede to a request to her to alter census results

– The untrue suggestion of desired alterations had something to do with the 2012 elections

– The norm would have called for the Government Statistician to hand over to Mr. Opoku Manu Asare, purportedly her “First” Deputy

– The GSS had set April 4th as the release date for the census

– Some individuals, presumably on or related to the Board, are eager to take over control of a World Bank fund allocated to the Service

There was also a suggestion that it was inappropriate to replace Dr. Bediako while she was out of the country.

The Board categorically rejects these pronouncements and is disappointed in the exhibition of journalism that, prior to publication, refused to even verify supposed “facts”, which stood to undermine confidence of domestic stakeholders and international partners in a very critical national institution, the GSS, at what is a very significant juncture in the census cycle.

This press release constitutes a rejoinder to set the record straight.

Here are the facts as the Board saw them:

1. With the Government Statistician taking her leave, Dr. Philomena Nyarko was asked to act in her stead and three additional temporary/acting appointments were made, effective immediately, in an effort to shore up upper management and address fundamental concerns about the effectiveness of the Ghana Statistical Service;

2. There is no hierarchy of first/second deputy in the Service and, indeed, Dr. Nyarko was already acting for the Government Statistician during the latter’s very recent trip to South Africa. Thus, the statement that Mr. Opoku Manu Asare should have been the rightful replacement is simply untrue.

3. No one on the Board has asked anyone in management to doctor any figures on the Census, for any reasons including the 2012 Elections. Also, and for the avoidance of doubt, there has been absolutely no request or directive from Government in this direction. The Service will continue to remain independent in the delivery of its functions. Likewise, the suggestion that anyone is trying to take control of a World Bank fund (presumably the MDTF) is categorically unfounded, and is effectively impossible, given the Bank’s tight system of controls.

The entire nation is aware of the challenges faced in the recent census, and the Board has been actively considering ways of resolving the issues that have delayed the release of the census, at the same that it oversees a restructuring of the Service. However, the immediate events that culminated in the Board taking action the above actions are as follows:

1. A group of international partners comprising the World Bank, EU, and DFID have extended support to the GSS and the broader National Statistical System (NSS) through a Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) to the value of seven million dollars to support implementation of the Ghana Statistics Development Plan. These partners conducted a mission visit to the GSS beginning on January 9th, 2012 to assess the progress of implementation of the project.

2. On January 18th, 2012 they briefed the GSS Board on their findings, and reported that based on the “evidence of performance” and “poor delivery” of the project, the partners were inclined to recommend that funding flows from the Multi Donor Trust Fund be stopped; that meant the Government of Ghana would immediately lose more than $3.5 million in valuable support

3. Although she met with the mission at the beginning of their visit, the Government Statistician was at a conference in South Africa when the very disturbing findings were presented by the mission. The seriousness of the issues facing the MDTF was clearly outlined to the Government Statistician and her Deputies, and was reiterated at the beginning of each meeting with staff. Given the gravitas of the situation, a decision was made by the mission team to invite the Board Members to the planned debrief with the Deputy Government Statisticians on 18th January, 2012. As the Government Statistician was not present for the de-briefing, she missed the opportunity to give the head of agency response to the issues raised. Despite the ominous signal evident in the international donor’s request for Board members to attend the debrief, Dr. Bediako opted to remain at the conference in South Africa; the invitation to the Board members indicated that the partners had “extremely serious concerns about the future viability of the project” and were “considering no further disbursements and possibly even requesting unspent funds” be returned.

4. During the January 18th de-briefing, the partners not only outlined the real risk of losing funding from the MDTF, but also highlighted the more ominous view that the risk of loss of support transcended the MDTF, in that the likelihood that it would affect the follow-on $40m project (given the experience of the partners with GSS’ execution of the MDTF), and have wider implications beyond GSS to include other MDAs, was hardly trivial. So, this was not simply about saving the $3.5 million remaining to be disbursed in the MDTF, but also about salvaging more substantial, longer term support for Ghana.

5. In response to the Board’s question about what the international partners attributed the lack of progress and poor performance to, they referred to the lack of follow-up on actions through the entire organization, lack of delegation to staff and staff frustration with this, weak motivation and commitment of staff, disengagement of directors leading key assignments, etc. Essentially, the partners were explicit in their concern about the degree of centralized management and the lack of effective delegation, and particularly how these were inhibiting all MDTF activities.

6. There was also strong concern expressed about the insufficient and inconsistent responses the mission had received about the status of the census results and whether the Service would meet its March 31st (not April 4th) deadline; from their calculations, the pace of progress suggested to the partners that the results could not be completed before mid-April, and would most likely not come in before end of May.

7. Conversely, the international partners praised the delivery of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), which had the Deputy Government Statistician, Dr. Nyarko, at its helm, and wondered how it could contrast so sharply with the delivery of the MDTF, given that both were being delivered by the same institution. The point was about how differently the MICS project had been set up and managed.

8. In response to the Board’s inquiry about what it might take to reconsider their position, the international partners indicated that after two weeks, they would have to complete their assessments and make final decisions, which could only be based on information they had at hand at that point.

9. The international partners’ findings reflected concerns the Board had already expressed to management (stemming from the Board’s own observations over time, information received from staff, the findings of the previous mission from July 2011, the MDTF memo of October 2011, etc.), and which the Board planned to address further through the ongoing restructuring of the Service. What was new from this most recent conversation about the mission was the urgency with which the findings had to be addressed; the Board interpreted all of this to mean that swift and decisive actions had to be taken in order to demonstrate our continued commitment to the Ghana Statistics Development Plan (GSDP) and the MDTF, and responsiveness within two weeks.

10. Thus, the Board’s actions should be seen as working in the direction of saving the MDTF for Ghana and the GSS/NSS, and to restore the confidence of the international partners so as to ensure continued support in the future. Right after the meeting with the international partners the Board convened an emergency session and took the decision to immediately implement certain changes in the way management is delivered, and regarding delivery of the census.

This is the extent of what has transpired at the Ghana Statistical Service over the last few days.

The Board wishes to express its appreciation to the general public for the support received over the years, and to state that the Service will work tirelessly to ensure the production of credible statistical information for national development. Most immediately, the Service will strive to release the 2010 Population and Housing Census results, by the stipulated goal of March 31st, 2012. All stakeholders, and particularly the press, are invited to lend their support to the Service to help it attain its national goals.

Prof. Francis Dodoo
Board Chairman

Source: Myjoyonline

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