Revamp of the civil service is well overdue

WELL done to the P&R Committee for taking action in starting to re-shape and slim down the civil service, a job that was supposed to have started in 2013.

Of course, deputies in the previous States must take responsibility for not ensuring that the process was completed. I should like to make it clear that the overarching title of ‘civil servant’ is too much of a generalisation. During my working life I have dealt with some great civil servants who are well qualified and have been effective in ‘getting the job done’. However, there have been many occasions during which their enthusiasm has been curtailed by having to work within some completely unwieldy and time-wasting systems. There can be no doubt that a major revamp of the civil service is well overdue.

States politicians, frequently individuals with no business acumen whatsoever, regularly use the term ‘reducing spending’. This should not necessarily be the case as things need to be done on our island but the focus needs to be on ‘reducing costs’.

As all managers will be well aware, Staffing is the major ‘cost’ in running any business so, obviously, needs to be kept to an absolute minimum if the business is to be a success. Many elements of the civil service need attention. This list is only a starting point:

l The current ‘pyramid’ structure must be flattened and layers of middle management removed.

l All posts with fancy job titles must be removed – managing director of this, director of that, chief officer, chief secretary and such like must be removed and department managers appointed.

l Any current large HR departments with their HR managers must go. The departmental manager should decide on staffing levels etc. with assistance/advice from an HR person.

l Salaries and pension costs etc. must be fully justified for any post.

l If the CEO position is deemed to be necessary, and I’m not sure that it is, then somebody with no previous involvement with any civil service should be appointed.

As has become apparent from recent experience, doing so will certainly lead to ‘more of the same’. An individual with a business background within the private sector is required who will rise to the challenge and make the necessary changes.

Unfortunately, there will be uncertainties for existing staff during the revamp process but, particularly at a time when we are all being expected to pay substantial increases in taxes, we should not be expected to continue to fund major inefficiencies within the civil service.

In the words of the chief minister, ‘Lets get things done now’.


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