Ellam Tangirongo talks about the period of civil unrest from 1999 to 2000, when the collapse of the economy in the Solomon Islands affected the ability of the civil service to function. The Regional Assistance Mission for the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), made up of Australia, New Zealand and some of the South Pacific Islands, helped restore order and reestablished the public service. Tangirongo describes how, as part of RAMSI, the Public Service Improvement Program (PSIP), with the help of consultants and advisers, developed a vision and mission statement for a new public service free of corruption. Tangirongo talks about methods the PSIP used to establish a human resource program to improve practices involving recruitment, training, equipment and promotions at the national and provincial level. He discusses the problems that result when ministers try to influence the choice of members on the Civil Service Commission and the important task of the commission in serving as a coordinating organ to involve the ministries and senior officers.
At the time of this interview, Ellam Tangirongo was chairman of the Public Service Commission of the Solomon Islands, a position he had held since 2008. A public-service career of more than 30 years began in the provinces of the Solomons. Later, he became deputy secretary of foreign affairs and served in the Ministry of Lands, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Women. For eight years he served in in the Public Service Department of the prime minister’s office, including the last four years as permanent secretary.