|Government working to be more efficient||| Print ||
|Written by Richard Greenfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Tuesday, 05 June 2012 14:47|
Making government more efficient and easier to do business with is the goal of the ongoing public service reform under the five new government ministries.
At a May 29 press conference, interim government Chief Executive Patrick Boyle said the reform includes creating proper job descriptions and a performance review processes to reward good employees and to offer training to those who need it to excel. A pay and grading review is currently underway with the assistance of the Civil Service Association, he said.
Better internal communication is needed to make sure that those leading the ministries work with employees at all levels to improve services, Boyle said.
Government also needs to be transparent and make public all information about how decisions are made by the civil service and future elected ministers.
“We need to make sure those ministers are well supported in their new jobs and that they’re very clear about the lines of accountability and responsibility,” Boyle said.
At the same time, government will insist on confidentiality among its employees to improve public confidence and accountability.
“It’s unacceptable that matters which are discussed and which are restricted to government … end up being leaked to the media or to other blogs,” Boyle said. “It’s really important that that code of conduct is clear to all our staff in civil service, and that they sign up to it and that they fully understand what will happen if they don’t adhere to it. I think that is really important if we want the service to be credible and to be trusted as a government as we move forward.”
One of the biggest problems is difficulty in doing business with government, Boyle said. People constantly complain to him about having to go to multiple offices over multiple days to conduct simple government business, like getting a driver’s license.
“That is an example of where government really needs to change the way in which it delivers services to the public,” he said. “We need to make it much easier for the public to access services, to get things done much more quickly in a less bureaucratic way.”
Government intends to move to a more cost effective, “e-delivery” strategy. People should be able to conduct much government business online, including obtaining public documents and government forms, and paying fees online.
“It’s not acceptable that when people come to the treasury, they have to pay for everything in cash,” Boyle said. “In this day and age, people should be able to use credit cards and other means of payment to be able to pay for the various fees and so on that they are required to pay to government.
“We want to make it easier for people to deal with government, and that doesn’t mean that people always have to come out and visit a government office. People should be able to do a lot more of their business at home online.”
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Home Affairs Susan Malcolm said government intends to set up “one-stop shops” on North, Middle and South Caicos and Salt Cay so that residents of the family islands don’t have to travel to Grand Turk or Providenciales to conduct all government business.
On Providenciales and Grand Turk, government is consolidating related offices in clusters within walking distance of each other to make things easier for residents and business owners, said Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Government Support Services Wesley Clerveaux. Government also will try to reduce the amount of paperwork and the required storage of printed documents with better use of computers and online services.
But the key to online services is improving government’s information technology, which has been in “a complete and utter shambles,” Boyle said.
“The public won’t be able to access information about government until government gets its act together and is able to store that information appropriately because at present it would be quite difficult to get at. The information is all there but it isn’t on an appropriate IT network.”
Government also wants to make the publication and issuing of government contracts more effective so that local businesses are aware of procedures and able to get contracts so that government spending helps the local economy, Boyle said.
Also under review are the country’s 37 statutory boards, which are being renewed periodically until changes are made.
“Statutory bodies cost the country far too much,” Boyle said. The governor recently said that the bodies cost more than $11 million annually, or 8 percent of all spending.
“Too many people who sit on boards of statutory bodies just turn up to collect their stipend and actually do very little on the boards of these bodies. We need to make sure that people who are appointed to those bodies in the future are appointed for their skills and their experience and their expertise … not just because they happen to know someone who is on the board.”
“There are too many statutory bodies that just exist for themselves,” he said. The pay and grading review of public service will include statutory bodies so that they won’t be setting their own salaries.
While Boyle did much of the talking at the press conference, he said permanent secretaries are running the public service, not him or more than 20 U.K.-paid advisors who are supporting them.
After voluntary severance reduced the civil service staff to about 1,700, Boyle believes the people who are left in the service are ones who want to serve the public as government employees.
The bottom line of the reform process is to make the civil service more effective and responsive to the public, he said. “The taxpayer at the end of the day is the boss.”
Photo: Government CEO Patrick Boyle
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