THE PHILIPPINES is seeking a $69-million loan from the World Bank to modernize the civil service, including the development of a centralized human resource management (HRM) and payroll system for the National Government.

Data from the World Bank showed the Philippines Civil Service Modernization Project aims to “improve the efficiency and the quality of human resource management in selected National Government agencies.”

“During the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, the bureaucracy faced a significant challenge in maintaining the delivery of essential services while dealing with communication and resource constraints…This new working environment underscored the inadequacy of existing policies and technologies to facilitate the seamless operation of fundamental government functions, including work reporting schedules and performance management,” it said.

In a 2018 review, the World Bank found the civil service suffers “institutional fragmentation, politicization, low digital penetration and administrative risks.”

“The main conclusion was that the civil service needs to be modernized if it is to play the role expected of it in a country that aspires to be an upper-middle/high-income economy in the next two decades,” it said.

The World Bank said there is no single, comprehensive HRM Information System (HRMIS) covering the country’s civil service, with multiple payroll systems being used.

“Fragmented and incomplete overall personnel and payroll management leads to a high level of inefficiency… Potential savings to the government of moving to a centralized payroll could be significant,” it added.

The loan would fund the digital transformation of HRM in the civil services, such as developing and implementing an integrated HRMIS for Government (HR4GOV) system and streamline HR framework, policies and procedures.

HR4GOV would include an employee self-service portal, web-based learning management system and data analytics function. It will also include the payroll system, employee database, as well as time, attendance and leave management.

The project also includes capacity building for HRM officers, strengthening the Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the development of an effective change management program.

The loan has an estimated approval date of July 17, 2024. The CSC will be the implementing agency for the project.

The Philippines currently has a total of 18 ongoing loans with the bank worth $5.701 billion.

Last year, the World Bank was the Philippines’ third-largest source of official development assistance (ODA). It accounted for 21.18% of the country’s total ODA portfolio, equivalent to $6.86 billion through 29 projects and programs. — L.M.J.C. Jocson