According to the Ugandan Constitution, a ministry or department of the Government of Uganda is under the supervision of a Permanent Secretary (PS) whose office is public office.
A Permanent Secretary is appointed by the President acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission. The functions of a Permanent Secretary include –
- organisation and operation of the department or ministry;
- tendering advice to the responsible Minister in respect of the business of the department or ministry;
- implementation of the policies of the Government Uganda;
- Subject to article 164 of the Constitution, responsibility for the proper expenditure of public funds by or in connection with the department or ministry.
Every ministry has its own permanent secretary, the office of the president has one, the office of the prime minister has one and every commission (for example public service commission) has a PS too.
A permanent secretary is always an expert/specialist or the most technical person in that department or ministry, for example if its ministry of health the permanent secretary must understand health matters to the core. And it is the PS that manages the handling of communications with the public.
At one time, there was a debate on who runs the show- the minister or PS?
The minister heads the ministry while the Permanent Secretary supervises what goes on in the ministry on a day-to-day basis and then reports to the minister.
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Now my other question is: If permanent secretaries can be reshuffled, fired by the president or even retire when they become old, why then is the title ‘Permanent Secretary’??