PUTRAJAYA, Dec 1 — The civil service does not use external consultants unless in a situation where there is a lack of specific expertise, according to the Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali.
He said this is in line with the strong confidence of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who heads the Unity Government, in the ability of civil servants to carry out development projects and agendas instead of relying on external consultants.
“That’s why the Prime Minister, when we often propose to hire a consultant to carry out the task, he always said no no no.
“He said you, as civil servants, have the ability to perform (as consultants). So, we (civil servants) are given a role in developing the country,” he said in an interview to mark the One Year Anniversary of Unity Government.
Mohd Zuki said the involvement of a comprehensive team of civil servants in the implementation of government development projects can lead to cost savings as external consultants are often paid hundreds of thousands of ringgit, especially when international consultants are engaged.
He pointed out that the negotiation work for development projects is currently handled entirely by civil servants, including the drafting of a proposal, which is a testament to the competence of civil servants in carrying out the tasks assigned.
Mohd Zuki said that utilising the services of internal consultants can also speed up the implementation of projects when officials from different ministries work together and act as a team.
For example, the project for the upgrading of the dilapidated school in SK Bandar Baru Bangi was successfully completed in just 22 days, compared to the original estimate of almost a year.
“In the past, if you wanted to build new schools, you had to hire external consultants for the services of architects, engineers, surveyors and so on, but now we do everything in-house, there are technical officers who are like a team of consultants from the Public Works Department itself.
“The reason for this is various procedures that are an obstacle. For example, the procurement process for upgrading dilapidated schools takes up to three months, while the school needs to be repaired quickly,” he said.
Mohd Zuki said civil servants should also be willing to undergo training to acquire knowledge and develop their skills and expertise in the areas needed for the development project.
He said the Prime Minister strongly encourages civil servants to pursue medium-term courses in large and successful conglomerate companies, such as through the Cross Fertilisation Programme (PCF).
“Some have already been sent to Petronas and he (Anwar) has asked that more be sent (to the second tier) if possible. This way, the future leaders will be better prepared to fulfil their responsibilities. We have to prove that by offering our services,” he said.
At the same time, Mohd Zuki said utilising in-house expertise is also a step to avoid duplication of efforts between external consultants and employees on projects that ultimately lead to losses for the government.
He said that through the Bitara Madani initiative, which utilises a government-wide approach by the Special Task Force on Agency Reform (STAR), which he chairs, the implementation of smaller maintenance projects that are of interest to the people will also be expedited.
“To implement a project, for example, we have to consult 10 agencies, so why not create a one-stop centre? So here, STAR is a facilitator, with all the agencies involved working together as a team, which will speed up implementation,” he said.
Mohd Zuki also said the inter-ministerial collaboration is a testament to the success of STAR without utilising the services of consultants for national development.
Asked about the government’s plans for next year, he said the Prime Minister would focus on issues such as the maintenance of lifts, the provision of stalls to help locals with their businesses, as well as the provision of quarters for civil servants and clean toilets in schools. — Bernama