Ombudsman Commission Hosts Leadership Training For District Development Authority Executives (DDA) & Heads of Secretariats

The Ombudsman Commission recently hosted a comprehensive training program in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province on 8 March 2024b and at the National Capital District on 14 March 2024.

The training was aimed at enhancing the understanding of the Chief Executive Officers of the District Development Authority (DDA) and the Heads of Secretariats regarding their roles and responsibilities as leaders. The program was well-attended by senior DDA management teams and other senior public servants, who were warmly welcomed by the Ombudsman Commission.

The primary objective of the program was to educate DDA CEOs and Heads of Secretariats about their obligations under the Leadership Code, as outlined in Sections 217 and 218 of the Constitution. Also, the training is a requirement to train leaders to understand the Commission’s role in enforcing the Leadership Code.  The training was primarily aimed at educating these leaders on the Constitution, particularly Sections 28(1)(b) and the Organic Law on Duties and Responsibilities, Section 4 on the Annual Statement which mandates the disclosure of personal and business finances, including those of family members and associates, to promote transparency and accountability among leaders.

The training provided an in-depth look at the Annual Statement form, a mandatory requirement for leaders to submit every 12 months upon assuming office. Failure to submit this form would result in a K20,000 fine for non-submission or late submission and an additional K500 every month from the due date of the Annual statement form.

The DDA CEOs and Heads of Secretariats from Highlands, New Guinea Islands, Momase and Southern Regions participated in active discussions during the training and raised related questions around political influences and the requirement for greater protection in their roles and positions as well as emoluments.

They also emphasized the importance of being covered under the Salaries and Remuneration Commission Determinations to ensure fair treatment and accountability due to them being now under the leadership code.

The training program also explored the procurement process, to provide and educate DDA CEOs and Heads of Secretariats to understand the GoPNG Mandatory Procurement/Tender Processes. This is to ensure proper compliance is made with the PFMA, Procurement Act (NPA) 2018, other Acts of Parliament and internationally recognized good procurement principles.

Simon Bole, the former Chief Executive Officer of the National Procurement Commission and current Director of Regions & External Relations addressed the severe consequences of not adhering to procurement processes and procedures during his presentation. Bole highlighted penalties such as the suspension or permanent barring of providers from participating in government projects, fines of up to K2 million, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 years for individuals, and fines of up to K50 million for organizations.

In his presentation, Mr Bole emphasized that contracts exceeding K5 million are handled by the National Procurement Commission (NPC). However, contracts below K5 million can be managed by relevant public or statutory bodies, provided they comply with NPC-approved systems and are certified by the Authority to Pre-commit Expenditure Committee (APC Committee).

By integrating the discussion on the procurement process into the training program, the Ombudsman Commission aims to equip DDA executives and Heads of Secretariats with a thorough understanding of their duties and responsibilities. This includes the critical area of procurement, which ensures transparency and accountability in public spending. The Commission’s dedication to promoting ethical leadership, good governance, and transparent procurement practices is essential for the effective functioning of DDAs and the delivery of public services.

In conclusion, the Commission’s commitment to providing ongoing training and support to DDAs and Heads of Secretariats is a vital step towards strengthening leadership, and accountability and ensuring that government services are responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people of Papua New Guinea.

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