Ms. Nieves L. Osorio readily answered the call of public service when, as a fresh graduate of the University of the Philippines, she joined the said institution as an Instructor in Biostatistics. Government service remained and continues to be foremost in her priorities. This fact can be gleaned from the various posts she has held, has been assigned or appointed to in the past forty years. Ms. Osorio belongs to the decreasing number of individuals who start their careers, gain expertise, thrive, impart knowledge and stay on in government, imbued with the same level of enthusiasm and fervour as their first day in public office. Many start their careers in government but move on to the private sector after gaining experience or a certain level of competency. Others stay in government lured by the power and authority that come with having a good position in the bureaucracy’s hierarchy. Ms. Osorio stayed in government for the right reasons. Throughout her stay in the public sector, she readily and willingly shared her knowledge and skills particularly in public finance and corporate governance and used them in drawing up good programs and sound policies that address the concerns of the agencies which had had the opportunity of having her in their team.
Starting off as an analyst and researcher who provided data and information to decision-makers, she eventually became the decision-maker. She was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation. She was the Chief Operating Officer of two other government corporations: the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the Philippine National Oil Company. In between her stint as Instructor and CEO/COO, she served the National Electrification Administration, the National Tax Research Center, the Bureau of Treasury, the Office of the President, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of Finance where she was the Undersecretary in charge of the Policy and Development Management Service Group and the Corporate Affairs group. She was Chairperson of the Career Executive Service Board in November 2012 and stayed on until May 2013 when she assumed office as CSC Commissioner.
One may ask, what is a statistics and finance person doing in an agency that handles the men and women who run the day-to-day affairs of government? The answer is quite simple. We need someone who can translate civil service figures into verifiable data and information essential in crafting programs and policies that determine the course and tide of public service. What does having 1.3 million state workers for the country’s 92 million population mean? How does the distribution of the government workforce affect service delivery? These are questions which have long hounded the bureaucracy and which still need to be validly answered.
While it may seem that Ms. Osorio was exposed to a world quite far and different from human resource and organizational development, it actually is not. Her track record bespeaks of a leader honed in the rigors of public sector management. Ms. Osorio brings into the Commission her wealth of experience in public finance, particularly on national and local government budgeting, and her learnings on corporate governance, fields in which she is a recognized authority. Her familiarity with government operations augurs well for any agency which she is appointed to. She deems having a vision as a leader important but she holds that operational acumen with which to attain the vision is also crucial. She has been entrusted with and has performed well in a number of sensitive assignments as part of her functions at the finance department. She can take on again an equally if not more sensitive responsibility – overseeing the country’s public servants.
She has long held the belief that an organization’s most important resource is its human resource. From the time she assumed commissionership at the CSC, she has helped keep on course the Commission’s journey of making civil servants servant-heroes or lingkod bayani. Given her years in the public sector, she is aware that government operates on a limited budget but she abides by the principle that nothing is impossible with a dedicated, well-meaning and integrity-imbued workforce to improve government service. Her mission is to continue to contribute to better public service through a competent and responsive workforce driven by evidence-based and well-researched policies.
After her stint at the PSALM in 2007, she became active in civil society organizations and encouraged them to look into public expenditures, advocate public financial management reforms and undertake budget advocacy work. I am particularly aware of her involvement in a project, wherein she developed modules which enhanced the budget monitoring capacity of CSOs. During her first term as President of the Philippine Statistical Association, Inc. (PSAI), the professional group of the country’s statisticians, PSAI formulated the Code of Ethics for Statisticians. Such passion on transparency and accountability springs from her years of stay in government which have not been marred by controversy; her integrity is beyond reproach.