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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Ensuring Efficiency and Transparency in Information Dissemination

The government of South Sudan, with no doubt, needs to make sure that there are structured ways and methods that should act as institutional guide to information delivery. Government officials, who talk anyhow without any proper institutional guide regarding what to say and how to say it, risk exposing the government to unintended ridicules.

Now, as the government and SPLM-in-Opposition get ready to form ‘The Transitional Government of National Unity’ (TGoNU), it’s absolutely crucial that a different, promising way of operationalizing national realities be initiated. Mind-sets need to change and old ways need to be reformed. Issues need to be researched before any decision is made. All ministries should have research departments in order to make sure that ministers and departmental officials make decisions that are grounded in verified and verifiable facts. The integrity of the government lies in the efficiency of the coordination with which government agencies operate.

We’ve had many cases where different ministers contradict themselves. That should not happen. Ministers and all government officials need to be very well coordinated in order to avoid internal contradictions. Any official who speaks on behalf of the government needs to consult relevant authorities before going to the media, or before giving public addresses with potential policy consequences. Any haphazardly conveyed messages reflect negatively on the government.

To ensure efficiency and control, public addresses by government officials should always be written and passed through advisers for critiques before delivery. Officials risk saying things they are not supposed to say if they don’t write down their public speeches. A good example of an official, who sometimes writes down his public addresses, is Dr. Elias Lomoro. Besides, officials should not publicly say what they’ve not discussed with their advisers.

In weekly cabinet meetings, different ministers should inform each other about their operations and what information they’d want the public to know. Potential public perceptions and how the cabinet plans to deal with any proposed ideas should be discussed in the cabinet meetings. This makes sure that all ministries are on the same page when it comes to any information the government needs to send out.

If the minister of information, the minister of foreign affairs, and the presidential spokesperson, say completely different things when they are supposed to be working for the same government, then something is wrong internally. It would be highly advisable for the government to correct this short-coming.

Efficient coordination helps the president track the exact information coming from the government and the ones concocted by outsiders. It becomes really difficult to know the real government policy position if officials say whatever they want when they want. In this case the president would find it impossible to tract what’s said by his officials and what they’ve not said. The only officials who should speak on behalf of the government should the designated officials. The government can deny anything uttered by authorities that are not authorized if such unauthorized statements tarnish the government.

Efficient coordination ensures that the government’s integrity and national integrity are protected internally and externally. Many things have gone wrong because some officials have not done their jobs with the required diligence. Assumptions are made without the due research and verification required by governmental operations.

It’s my hope that, as we get ready to have the TGoNU instituted and guns go silent (I hope), our leaders will find it necessary that researching of facts and verification of claims is an unequivocally needed standard operating procedure. With no doubt, facts need to be verified first by the concerned officials before being made public. Any official, who assumes he/she knows everything, should be subjected to scrutiny.

Once the government ensures transparency and efficiency in information dissemination, it then becomes easy to embark on service delivery to our people. Efficiency makes it easy for government to monitor performance and progress.

Kuir ë Garang,