Dunkley questions ‘extra’ Civil Service job

  • Michael Dunkley (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Michael Dunkley (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Michael Dunkley warned yesterday that a perceived move to introduce an extra senior position in the Civil Service will cost taxpayers more money.

The former premier also described the Government’s intention to separate the posts of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service as an “out-of-the-blue” attempt to create a political appointment.

The Opposition backbencher’s criticism came after the Government announced on Monday that it was splitting the posts, which have been combined since 2010, and will both command a salary of $209,894.19 — in keeping with a recommendation by the 2013 Sage Commission.

Mr Dunkley said the Government, by increasing the number of ministries, had gone against the Sage Commission’s recommendations to save money by consolidating government departments and ministries.

“Now I expect the PLP government to try and rationalise that they have a Minister of Government Reform supported by the Deputy Head of the Civil Service,” he said.

“However, since July 2017 we have seen more jobs added to the government ranks with no known efficiencies or cost savings. Now this change again will further increase costs to the taxpayer.

“Since 2010, both roles have been the responsibility of one person, and with this change the roles will be separate and each graded at PS 50 with each job paying $209,894.19.”

A government spokeswoman offered no response when questioned over whether these developments would prove more costly to the taxpayer.

Mr Dunkley emphasised that more work was needed to reduce the yearly government operating deficit.

He added: “Out-of-the-blue changes like this will not help but have the potential to dig a deeper hole.”

The Government said on Monday that Derrick Binns would remain as Head of the Civil Service and that the Public Service Commission planned to appoint a new Cabinet secretary by the end of this month.

A press release added that John Rankin, the Governor, and David Burt, the Premier, believed the move to separate the posts would “place a sharper focus on public service reform”.

Mr Dunkley questioned what responsibility the Deputy Head of the Civil Service, a position held by Cherie Whitter since 2014, would have when Dr Binns assumes his new role.

He said: “The PLP government media release says, ‘In an effort to place a sharper focus on public service reform, the posts of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service will be separated’.

“This, in my humble view, is pure political spin as the current Deputy Head of the Civil Service over the last few years has had direct responsibility for public service reform and implementation of specific provisions of the Sage report. In my view, the DHCS is capable and qualified to implement the priorities and plans of a government.”

Mr Dunkley added that the “PLP as the Opposition had little positive to say about the work of the Sage Commission”.

He said: “Out of the blue, another highly compensated job is created which looks like moving the current Cabinet secretary in an effort to have a political appointment.

“This behaviour is a carryover from the last PLP administration and it undermined the effectiveness and the unbiased nature of the Civil Service.”

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said on Monday that both posts were graded at the PS 50 pay scale with a salary of $209,894.19, and that funding for the new role would be allocated in the next Budget.

However, the Cabinet Office spokeswoman revealed that Dr Binns would remain at the PS 50 pay scale.

Asked why this figure was higher than the PS 50 salary listed in this year’s Budget Book, which came in at $204,775, the spokeswoman said: “During the most recent Bermuda Public Service Union negotiations all public officers were given a cost-of-living increase of 2.5 per cent.

“This increase was effective from April 1, 2017. The increase in all salaries will be reflected in the 2018-2019 Budget Book and Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

The spokeswoman said identifying and hiring the next Cabinet secretary was the responsibility of the Public Service Commission and she added that “other than this, we will not comment on human resources matters”.

Sage Commission Recommendations

The Sage Commission, a body tasked with assessing government efficiency, made this recommendation to the Government in December 2013:

• Establish two roles, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, to lead government employees.

• Give both positions equal seniority.

• Abolish the position of Assistant Cabinet Secretary.

• Define the role of Secretary to the Cabinet in line with the provisions of Section 69 of the Constitution, but expand it to include other areas of focus such as co-chair of the Civil Service Executive and responsibility for the Central Policy Unit.

• Give responsibility for managing the operations of the Civil and Public Service to the Head of the Civil Service, including completing the performance appraisals of the financial secretary and permanent secretaries.

• Give responsibility for creating job descriptions for the posts of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service to the Secretary to the Cabinet. These would reflect the recommendations of the Sage Commission and be approved by the Public Service Commission.

• Give responsibility for the performance appraisals of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service to the PSC.

• In addition to responsibilities outlined in the Constitution, the Secretary to the Cabinet should be charged with overseeing the Sage Commission’s recommendations that impact those areas that fall directly under him or her, together with areas for which the position has administrative responsibility.

• The Head of the Civil Service should have the responsibility for shared services, human resources and the administrative responsibility for the Public Service Commission, as well as for implementing the Sage Commission’s recommendations that impact those areas that fall directly under him or her (e.g. Government employees).

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Published Jan 17, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 17, 2018 at 7:02 am)

Dunkley questions ‘extra’ Civil Service job

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