The Department of Works (DOW), is a technical agency for implementing government schemes for roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and housing. It deals with new works and with maintenance, either undertaking the work itself or assuring quality control on contracted out projects. In 1994 alone, the DOW implemented over 1,000 capital works projects to the tune of K410.5 million. It exists primarily to serve other government departments and agencies and has to reflect their medium and long-term plans. However it is anxious to develop a proper plan of its own which will enable it to operate efficiently.
In 1992 DOW realigned its organisational structure in line with National Government policy initiatives in the Structural Adjustment Programme. It now has two deputy secretaries, six first assistant secretaries and 25 assistant secretaries divided between two functional areas, Pol i cy & Administra t ion and Technical. It currently has a total staff of 3953, of which 114 (3%) are expatriates. Of the national staff, 130 are professionals including 83 engineers, 19 architects, 21 surveyors, 4 land managers and 3 quantity surveyors. Only 20% of these staff are based at the Headquarters in Boroko, the remaining 80% are actively engaged in field operations in all the provinces of Papua New Guinea.
DOW’s main function involves the planning, design and implementation of capital projects but it also does feasibility studies, provides professional and technical advice to both Provincial and local governments and ensures that foreign-funded projects are completed within specific terms and conditions. It maintains a procurement and supply service for stores items, vehicles, plant and machinery throughout the country. It provides technical advice to building boards and research into local building materials. PNG nationals are given on-the-job training. There is special attention given to the management of the environment in rural-oriented programmes such as water and sewerage, roads and low cost housing.
It has long been recognised in the DOW that skilled and highly motivated labour force is essential. In 1971 a Works Training Centre was established in Boroko. A second centre was opened in Konedubu in 1974 and a Civil Engineering centre was opened in Madang in 1978. All three are financed by the DOW and provide sub-professional training to DOW staff in technical, financial and management disciplines. In order to keep abreast of new technology and modern construction techniques DOW is seeking to upgrade the Boroko Centre to an Institute of Technology. It would provide highly specialised and practical courses to PNG and be open to other South Pacific countries at reasonable cost.
One of the few areas where DOW is not happy with its record is in the operations of Government Stores. This Department seems to have been dogged by problems not least of which was being transferred from one Department to another over the last 20 years. Efficiency and output have suffered. Unprofessional work habits have been developed and manpower is drastically short of skills, management experience and numbers. DOW is determined to do whatever is necessary to resolve these problems and to bring efficiency and high productivity back to the branch.
Much of DOW’s work is done in relation to the needs of other agencies. For example the Department of Education has a High School Support Programme. It hopes to create up to 3,440 new student places in the next six years. The capital works component involves the provision of student’s dormitories, kitchen/mess, staff residential accommodation, off ice blocks, laboratories, libraries and other infrastructural facilities.
DOW is also completing programmes for the Department of Agriculture, Health, Civil Aviation and Transport. The roads building programme alone involves several massive projects over the next few years. To this end a National Roads Authority is to be established to be responsible for the development and maintenance of major highways. DOW has a busy future.