The history of the Ghana Civil Service is linked with the establishment of the Colonial Service in the Gold Coast. The service was the main instrument of British imperial policy, whose main functions were:
- Maintenance of law and order,
- Imposition and collection of taxes and
- Exploitation of the rich mineral deposits and other natural resources of the colony.
The modern Ghana Civil Service is the development of the Africanisation Policy. In the years preceding the 1914 – 18 war, there were several local personalities in the senior grades of the civil service. In 1925 – 26, Sir Gordon Guggisburg, the then Governor of the Gold Coast, put forward the first organized plan for the development of an indigenous civil service. This plan was formulated to increase the number of Africans holding European Appointments, to reduce the high cost of employing Europeans and create a local machinery for accelerated development.
In furtherance of the Africanisation policy and program, a series of initiatives were undertaken:
- Launch of scholarship program in 1941
- Establishment of an interim Public Services Commission in 1948 to advice the Governor on appointments and promotions in the public service.
- Following public criticism of policies, a scheme was drawn up for the progressive African and for the education and training of the African to take up senior appointments in the Civil service during the period.
- The restructuring of government machinery and the establishment of statutory corporation to assume certain functions of government in 1951.
The Lidbury Committee report in 1951 made wide-ranging recommendations affecting:
- The redesigning of the structure of the machinery of government,
- The restructuring of the Civil Service and
- The establishment of statutory corporations to assume certain functions of government.
The Lidbury Commission adopted as models the British System. In 1951, when the Gold Coast gained internal self-government, the Departments and portfolios then existing and located in the office of the Colonial Secretary, sited within the current Ministry of the Interior, were converted into Ministries. By their close association with the colonial government, the civil servants of that era were powerful and were only accountable to the colonial masters. They served as links between the communities and the colonial masters and invariable assumed some form of leadership in the communities. Upon attaining independence and republican status in 1957 and 1960 respectfully, various Ministries and Government Departments have been created, restructured or re-aligned to suit the needs of the times. Discipline and professionalism permeated the civil service and this helped to ensure efficiency, commitment, selflessness and dedication to duty. The independence of Ghana heralded an era of which emphasis was placed on development and public welfare. Civil Servants were therefore called upon to bear the responsibility to translate the promises of independence into reality.
In 1960, the Constituent Assembly passed the Civil Service Act, 1960 (CA.5). It provided for the following:
- The creation of Civil Service posts,
- The setting up of Ministries and Departments,
- The appointment and retirement of Civil Servants, and for
- The conditions of service, disciplinary proceedings and other matters relating to the Civil Service.
The Civil Service Act, 1960, was later complemented by the Civil Service (Interim) Regulations, 1960 (L1.47). The Regulations provided for:
- The creation of a Civil Service Commission,
- The structure of the Civil Service and
- The filling of vacancies in the Ghana Civil Service, etc.
In 1993, the Civil Service Law, 1993 (PNDCL 327), was passed to replace the Civil Service Act, 1960 (CA.5). The law states that the Civil Service forms part of the Public Services of Ghana, and that it comprises service in a civil office of Government in both central and local government. Subsequently, Local Government Act 462 and Local Government Service Act 656 have also been passed to govern the operations of the Local Government system.