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Chief Minister and States CEO outline plan to breakdown government silos

Chief Minister and States CEO outline plan to breakdown government silos

The two men leading public sector reform in Jersey set out a vision of partnership, modernisation and setting a new ‘Jersey standard’ at IoD Jersey’s inaugural mid-term review yesterday [Tuesday 6th March].

Senator Gorst and newly appointed States Chief Executive Officer Charlie Parker argued that Jersey’s civil service would have to change if it was to ‘steer Jersey through the choppy waters of Brexit’ and provide ‘streamlined services redesigned around the needs of Islanders’.

Senator Gorst also used the event, which was sponsored by Carey Olsen and held at the Pomme d’Or Hotel, to officially announce his intention to seek a fifth term in the States and his third as Chief Minister.

The mid-term review was an opportunity to follow up on some of the themes discussed at last September’s IoD Annual Review, which sought to assess the measures available to Jersey’s government to maintain high quality public services against the backdrop of population growth, looking in particular at taxation, skills and the structure of the civil service.

Senator Gorst and Mr Parker used the opportunity to make a case for reform. Just hours after the review, they announced how the States would be restructured to better achieve that change. Their comments at the review included:

  • The reform programme was the result of a significant amount due-diligence work to ‘get under the bonnet of public services’. 1,000 Islanders were surveyed, which indicated that the public care about the environment, countryside and beaches; they worry about affordability of housing; they want to keep taxes low and they expect modern public services.
     
  • The survey also revealed that 90% of people want the quality of services to be measured, 84% would like to access services at a single location, 75% want more services online, and only 33% think that the States listen to Islanders.
     
  • A considerable amount of States work is carried out in vertical silos. As an example, Mr Parker identified 24 procurements for IT but 12 of those were for the same system. The States needs to ‘think more thematically’ with more people taking responsibility for generic operations. There also needs to be greater flexibility across functions, less duplication and more opportunities for people lower down the structure to have their ideas heard.
     
  • The proposed reforms will ‘inevitably’ have some impact on headcount. There will be redeployments, opportunities to retrain, a greater need for more flexibility and more support for employees as the States ‘look to do things differently’. Also, the States cannot rely on bringing in skills from outside the Island and there needs to be a greater emphasis on ‘growing our own’.
     
  • There will be more engagement with businesses, interest groups and the third sector to start and maintain a ‘more outward-focused’ conversation. New partnerships will be formed, and new relationships established with States-owned bodies.
     
  • Currently, States departments are separate corporate bodies in law but that will have to change to improve cross-departmental coordination, transparency and working practices to better serve Islanders.

After each addressing the audience at the mid-term review, Senator Gorst and Mr Parker also took questions, which ranged from the future of farming to asking for examples of similar jurisdictions that had successfully implemented widespread reform.

Commenting on the mid-term review, IoD Jersey Chairman Chris Clark said: “I think IoD members were impressed by the energy and commitment expressed by the two panellists. Few would argue against the need for reform, but we have to ensure that it brings clear and measurable benefit and is appropriate to Jersey.

“Over the decades, many have tried – and failed – to bring about lasting and effective change but I am optimistic that this new effort can succeed should permission from the Assembly be forthcoming, which is the critical next step to convert the Chief Executive’s strategy to action. I believe most IoD members and Islanders alike would agree that the proposed transformation is essential if Jersey is to retain its international position, whilst ensuring a sustainable economy both in 2018 and beyond.”