Commonwealth’s top civil servants discuss strategies to build robust public service

07 June 2022

The biennial Commonwealth Heads of Public Service and Cabinet Secretaries meeting is currently underway virtually. Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, and the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, opened the forum by delivering keynote addresses highlighting the need for collective efforts to deliver sustainable and effective performance in government.

LONDON, 7 June 2022 – The second Biennial Pan-Commonwealth Meeting of Heads of Public Service/Cabinet Secretaries kicked off with a call for governments to work together to deliver a sustainable framework to assess performance management in order to serve citizens more efficiently and effectively.

More than 200 delegates from across the Commonwealth are attending the three-day meeting, which will focus on the theme, ‘Frontiers of Government Performance Management: Towards Generally Accepted Performance Principles (GAPP)’ and will offer delegates the opportunity to reflect on the current state of public service governance in Commonwealth countries and the challenges they face; share innovative solutions, best practices, and available toolkits for enhancing government performance, and further accelerate the implementation of policies towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Speaking at the opening of the forum, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, underscored the need for countries to work together to identify trends and solutions and share experiences and perspectives to build a prosperous Commonwealth for all. She said:

“In our hands lies the welfare, hopes and aspirations of 2.5 billion people.  And through government performance management we can deliver the mother of all reform – the foundation for good government. Enabling us all to serve people more efficiently and effectively and build a healthier, happier, more secure and more prosperous future for all. That is a goal which, I have no doubt, we all share.

“So my challenge is this:  For us to come together and work together for consensus on a framework which we can all use to assess performance management. 

“And I am delighted to report that, after 24 months of work, we have a set of draft Generally Accepted Performance Principles, known as GAPP,which can provide the basis for agreement.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, which saw more than 1 million lives lost across the Commonwealth, also highlighted the vital importance of public service delivery and performance management and tested the limits and capacities of governments across the Commonwealth, the Secretary-General said.

Secretary-General Scotland emphasised that as the world recovers from the economic damage of the pandemic, the interlinked crises of climate change, conflict, instability and the cost-of-living crisis, the need for effective governance performance management has never been more important.  She highlighted the Secretariat’s series of training programmes that were launched during the pandemic and benefited more than 2,000 senior officials and public servants from across 44 Commonwealth countries.

The Prime Minister of Barbados, The Rt Hon Mia Amor Mottley QC MP, in her keynote address, outlined her government’s commitment to delivering a world-class public service to their citizens. Urging Commonwealth countries to work together towards a common future, Prime Minister Mottley said:

“Performance management cannot just be another exercise. There is simply too much at stake. If we are to transform our respective governments, then this meeting must deliver results that are tangible and capable of being replicated.

The ability to measure what we do opens the door for greater accountability, increased output and competitiveness which is ultimately what is crucial to the success of our countries. I am confident that you will agree on this, and the belief that performance principles will help us to achieve all of our ideas at home and abroad is what must drive us all at this point.”

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Senior Director at the Governance and Peace Directorate, Dr Luis Franceschi, underlined the importance of strong and committed leadership at all levels in the implementation of policies and programmes. He said:

“Leadership is the key enabler in all our public service delivery efforts, including the achievement of national development objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Professor Prajapati Trivedi, the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for SDG Implementation and Professor Marc Holzer from Suffolk University and Founding Director, National Centre for Public Performance (NCPP), delivered a session highlighting how to measure and improve government performance with examples that can be used in the GAPP framework.

During the meeting which concludes on 8June 2022, delegates will hear from a distinguished panel of speakers that includes senior and former government officials, representatives from international organisations, and academics who will present case studies and best practices from countries across the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister of Bhutan, H.E. Lyonchhen Lotay Tshering, is set to deliver a keynote address on Day 2 of the meeting.

At the conclusion of the meeting, an outcome statement outlining key recommendations will be issued for consideration by Commonwealth member countries. The meeting outcomes will also inform the policy agenda for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali this month and will also be shared with other stakeholders for possible partnerships and collaborations.


Media contact

  • Angela Kolongo  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • +44 7587 881503  |  E-mail