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Ministers 'Struggling To Hold Officers To Account'?

The Head of Scrutiny has written to the Council of Ministers calling for 'proper transparency'.

Senator Kristina Moore wants them to explain how they plan to save £40 million next year, as promised in the Government Plan.

Last week, she said Ministers should at least be able to explain what those efficiencies will be, as the consultants brought in as the government's Transition Team started working on it two years ago.

That prompted a letter from Government CEO, Charlie Parker, aiming to 'remind of the facts':

"You stated that a Transition Team has been on the Island for two years, and expressed surprise that the team hadn't finished working out all the detail of the efficiencies plan. I thought it might be helpful to refresh your understanding of the history and current position regarding the team you referenced."

Mr Parker says four consultants were brought in prior to his arrival to review how the public sector operates to identify priorities for him to address when he took up the job as Chief Executive.

"As I announced more than a year ago, and have explained to your scrutiny panel, the Transition Team was stood down in March 2018, having completed that phase of discovery work... I was therefore surprised to hear you talk about the team as still existing, as this will have misinformed Islanders about who is leading transformation in the public service."

The island's most senior civil servant, Charlie Parker

Senator Moore, who chairs the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, says it was disappointing to receive such a letter from the Government's Chief Executive Officer:

"I have absolutely no issue with the facts - I know and understand the Transition Team were brought in to do preparation work so [Mr Parker] could hit the ground running, and I think it's much more important to focus on getting the information that the States Assembly needs to make a proper decision as to whether we can sign off the Government Plan or not."

Writing to the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, she says the issues need to be cleared up:

"Perhaps the Chief Executive misunderstood the point I was making, but for the avoidance of any doubt, I feel compelled to address you on this matter, which has at its very heart some fundamental issues that are causing concern amongst Scrutiny members and the general public.

"The point I was making was that it is two years since that work began. That was the first act of the new Chief Executive. The public expects him, two years into this work, to be able to at least a) tell us what the efficiencies will be, b) how much has been spent on the process of identifying them and c) what investment is needed to complete the work."

Scrutiny President and panel Chair, Senator Kristina Moore

Senator Moore goes on to repeat her calls for details of planned savings to be released by the Council of Ministers.

The Chief Minister said last week they would be available to Scrutiny by the end of October, with the debate due to take place in November.

But the Scrutiny Chair says a month isn't enough time to properly scrutinise how the government plans to save £40 million next year - and £100 million by 2023 - questioning whether the targets set out in the Government Plan are actually achievable.

In her letter to the Council of Ministers, Senator Moore says delaying information on how planned savings will be made without explaining why is unhelpful for the island:

"In a time of uncertainty, to prolong this process without proper transparency is unhelpful for the island.

"The Assembly and the public deserve and expect to know what else is being proposed within an appropriate period of time to afford proper public consultation and scrutiny.

"This lack of clarity, 15 months into your term of office suggests that the Council of Ministers is struggling to hold officers to account.".

Channel 103 asked the Council of Ministers for a response, but they have declined.

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