The Director of the Information Services Department (ISD), Charles Wereko, has charged officers of the Department to bring the passion shown by their predecessors back into the work culture to enable it to take back its enviable position as the government’s key main development partner, despite the numerous difficulties.
“The open vilification against the ISD management by staff on various social media platforms over the Department’s challenges would only serve to further break our ranks and worsen our current predicament. We rather need to resolve collectively to put our best foot forward while we continue to explore for durable solutions with a positive and constructive spirit,” said Mr. Wereko.
Mr Wereko made the appeal during a familiarisation tour of the Bono East, Bono, Ahafo and Western North regional offices of the Department.
Accompanied by Heads of ISD Regional Co-ordinating Division Dorothy Silo Tagoe and Head of Operations Division Ebenezer Owusu-Ansah, the team held discussions with regional ministers and other stakeholders on possible strategies to enhance ISD capacity to effectively project government achievements.
Though the refurbishment and re-tooling of the Department with cinema vans, computers, among others in line with its transformation programme had not commenced, the ISD Director noted that renovation of the Right To Information Secretariat and the Research Section had been completed and equipped with the modern state-of-art gadgets.
He disclosed that 260 android phones had been distributed to all Regional/District Information officers (R/DIOs) to facilitate collection/transmission of data as part of the refurbishment of the Research Section, adding that efforts to provide DIOs with regular Financial Encumbrance to enable them to execute their functions had reached an advanced stage.
Following approval given by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and the subsequent endorsement of the new ISD Scheme of Service by the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Wereko announced that all officers in the information class, apart from Assistant Information Officers, Deputy Directors and Director, would enjoy enhance salaries by the end of the year.
He, therefore, encouraged the officers to continuously upgrade themselves with the relevant professional qualifications and critical skills to enable them to effectively discharge their functions to justify the salary increment approved under the new scheme.
The Department, he said, has also finalised modalities for the payment of allowances including overtime, transfer grants or haulage refund for transferred/retired officers, medical subsidy, car maintenance allowances, among others and charged RIOs to submit applications on behalf of their officers who qualify to enjoy any of the above allowances to the ISD Head office for processing.
He disclosed that the Department has concluded the training and posting of newly recruited Right To Information (RTI) officers to all MDAs and key public institutions, adding that the Department would soon arrange training for its officers, particularly DIOs who have been designated by their Assemblies as RTI Officers, on provisions of the RTI Act.
The training would enable information officers to educate the public and assist in delivering this critical mandate, which has now been added to the Department’s functions.
The ISD Director explained that the Department has commenced a social media campaign on the 2020 elections and encouraged staff of the Department to use their platforms to educate their public to refrain from making pronouncements or engage in actions that could mar the peaceful conduct of the polls.
Mr. Wereko cautioned all information officers to maintain their professionalism and political neutrality in the exercise duties during next month’s parliamentary and presidential elections and warned that any officer who mounts a political platform or found publicly campaigning for any political party or engaged in any partisan activities would be taken through the disciplinary process.
Key issues raised by the information officers during the interaction sessions included the delay in processing promotions particularly for officers on the grade of Senior Information Assistant/ Journalist, when the ISD Transformation programme would commence, the fate of non-information staff like Technical, Secretaries and Executive Officers who would not be migrated into the new Scheme of Service and the need to step up internal communication amongst information officers to regularly update all officers on current happenings in the Department.
Other concerns raised by the officers include the lack or deplorable state of the ISD offices and furniture, urgent need to undertake repairs of the large fleet of broken-down cinema vans, sidelining of DIOs by the assemblies, incentives payment, tools allowance for Technical staff, difficulty in securing study-leave and request for Book allowance for officers pursuing study programmes, recruitment needed to fill vacancies in the ISD district offices and provision of training opportunities for all categories of information officers
On their part, RIOs expressed appreciation to the ISD Director for the tour and called for frequent interaction with the ISD management to help dispel some misconceptions held by some officers at the districts on the management of the department and facilitate brainstorming on how the numerous challenges confronting the Department could be resolved.