Public Relations Officers (PROs) in all Ministries, government departments and agencies have been transferred to the Botswana Government Communication and Information Services (BGCIS) in the Office of the President.
Government spokesperson Dr. Jeff Ramsay told The Telegraph that the motive for bringing the PROs directly rather than indirectly under BGCIS is in the first instance to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of Government Communications by instilling such things as common standards including turnaround times.
Ramsay stated that bringing PROs under one roof will also facilitate various Human Resource Management (HRM) issues. ┬á
He said that at the same time, the PROs will remain for the most part in Ministries, under the operational supervision of their Permanent Secretary with the task of facilitating the communications of said Ministries.
Dr Ramsay said one of the consequences of upgrading will be that PROs in general will have the capacity to be more proactive in their information dissemination.
“We certainly agree that there is a need for improvement,” said Ramsay.
He added that if there is a greater flow of appropriate information from government through proper channels it might also help to mitigate the situation of information leaks. He said it is certainly a pattern found elsewhere and added that a more professional government communications system should be able to deliver greater transparency.
He said the exercise is still in its early stages and, as a result, there are aspects of the transfer that are still being clarified. According to Ramsay, one of the critical issues is the need to ensure that there is substantial harmonization of the communications structures across Government. He stated that, as it is now, some Ministries and Departments have appointed relatively senior officials to drive their communications.
“It is our perspective that the same Ministries and Departments have generally performed better in serving the public and should become benchmarks for others,” said Ramsay.