IMPROVING GOVERNMENT SERVICES
Some government departments are not providing great service with unacceptable consequences for the public and government staff.
Some areas regard themselves as inadequately resourced. This is despite recent growth in the public sector workforce that the outgoing interim Chief Executive of government described as “unsustainable”. He himself said a larger size does not automatically produce better service.
The more Islanders government employs, the fewer available for the industries that contribute to the Island’s economy. The more immigrants called upon to take up the slack, the more pressure on our housing stock, increasing the cost of housing.
Government management needs to be improved at all levels to improve efficiency, accountability, responsiveness and reduce costs, without cutting valued services or overloading States workers. Government needs to harness the talents that already are available in our community and stop unnecessarily resorting to engaging expensive UK consultants to provide ‘evidence’ as a tick box exercise.
Government also needs to learn massively more from the private sector how: • to make better decisions with better information
- to deliver services more productively and without further inflating recruitment costs in the private sector
- to counter abuse of personal position and to improve accountability and transparency; and
- to improve HR management, public property management and the awarding of public contracts.
It needs a radical reboot to abandon or change the processes that get in the way of good government and to rapidly compensate for falling backwards in training staff in up-to-date management and administration methods, including IT expertise.
The How Proposition list seeks to build on the way in which the Treasury partnered with Ernst and Young to improve its capability. It proposes the transfer of senior management of certain areas of government administration to the private sector (or specially constituted local trusts) to:
- help organise service delivery, staffing and training more effectively and recruit more transparently and more locally
- review the contracts of senior civil servants to ensure they are of private sector professional standard
- organise health and education facilities more effectively
- improve employment culture with independent handling of bullying claims
- release procurement of services and goods from current red tape and lack of transparency
in all cases with government acting as a watchdog with less overload.
Lack of accountability and transparency also are a problem in government.
The How Proposition list sets out specific measures to counter this, including giving the public a right to good administration supported by:
- requirements for officials to record reasons for decisions in writing
- the fast tracking of the establishment of a Public Ombudsman (a recommendation by the independent government watchdog that stalled by the former government) to enable administrative decisions to be reviewed without resorting to the expense of court actions
- measures requiring the publication of minutes with fewer redactions
- and amendments to the law to clarify the meaning of accountability