History of the Service Commissions Department and the Service Commissions

The Service Commissions Department has grown out of the Personnel Branch of the former Colonial Secretariat which went out of existence in 1961, following the attainment of internal self government by Trinidad and Tobago.   The Colonial Secretariat was the premier administrative department in a highly centralized bureaucratic system which commenced with the introduction of the Crown Colony Government in 1833.

The Personnel Branch was specifically charged with the responsibility of advising the Governor, through the Colonial Secretary, on the recruitment, confirmation of appointment, promotion, transfer and discipline of staff in the Public Service.   It was also responsible for the grant to officers of leave to be spent out of the Colony and leave passages, as well as for matters connected with conditions of service and salary administration.  In respect of the latter functions, it maintained a close liaison with the Financial Branch (now called the Ministry of Finance) which had to be consulted where questions of finance and financial policies were involved.

The Service Commissions Department as we know it today is the Secretariat of the four (4) constitutionally entrenched Service Commissions viz. the Public Service Commission, the Police Service Commission, the Judicial and Legal Service Commission and the Teaching Service Commission.  These Commissions have been charged with the responsibility for appointment, promotion, transfer and discipline within the Public Service. The Service Commissions Department provides these Commissions with the necessary administrative and advisory services to enable them to effectively carry out their constitutional functions.

The Service Commissions Department, was first located in the Red House, St. Vincent Street, Port of Spain, then at 151B Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, then 41-43 St. Vincent Street, Port of Spain, and is now located at 52-58 Woodford Street, Port of Spain.

The Service Commissions are constitutional bodies established under the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution, Chapter 1:01.  These Commissions were appointed initially to advise the Governor of the then colony of Trinidad and Tobago on the appointment, promotion, transfer and exercise of disciplinary control of members of the civil service, police service and persons who possessed legal qualifications.   The purely advisory status of these Commissions was enhanced on the attainment of Independence in 1962.   Today, the four Service Commissions have full executive power to exercise their functions to appoint, promote, transfer, confirm and exercise disciplinary control as enshrined in the Constitution.