Richard Panton describes the role he played in public sector reform in Liberia. Before the civil war, he explains, civil servants were adequate and well trained. But they began to take jobs in the private sector, non-governmental organizations and the United Nations after the war, leading to a decline in the public sector’s capacity. Also, due to transitional arrangements, recruiters did not consider education and professionalism when selecting public workers. Reform was necessary to resolve capacity issues. The Civil Service Agency was in charge of selection and recruitment, payroll and age structure, and promotion systems. The Liberia Institute of Public Administration designed a curriculum for training existing public workers. Panton was involved in designing and facilitating training programs in records management, project planning and management, human resource management, strategic management, and financial management. According to him, some of the challenges included a shortage of training equipment, budget delays and inadequate specialists in human resource management.
At the time of this interview, Richard Panton was the deputy director-general for training and development at the Liberia Institute for Public Administration. He joined LIPA in 1998 as a special assistant to the director-general. He was also a trainer of the African Management Development Institute Network and an instructor of public administration and management at the University of Liberia and United Methodist University. Panton joined the government as a cadet in 1985 in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He worked in the Office of the Deputy Minister for Administration. He later moved to the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor concentration in political science from the University of Liberia and a master’s in development management from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.