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Urgent reform of Civil Service needed, says SAGE

The Island's Civil Service needs urgent reform to cuts costs and boost performance, a major report into Government spending said yesterday.

And the 140-page SAGE report recommended the need for a strategic plan, while saying other parts of the public services could be privatised, outsourced or turned into quangos along the lines of the West End Development Corporation.

The report said: “The employees of the Civil and Public Service do not have sufficient leadership skills and capabilities at the right management levels, nor are the necessary skills and capabilities present in an appropriate number of individuals, to meet the challenges that Bermuda faces today.

“Further, senior leadership has allowed bad practices to develop and has not held individuals to account for poor performance or inappropriate actions.”

The report added: “While there are ‘stars' within Government, both at senior management and staff levels, there is a collective lack of commitment to excellence, results, accountability and adherence to rules ...”

The SAGE document lists a series problems in the Civil Service, including performance management systems either not in place or not used,

The report added: “At the Permanent Secretary and Head of Department level, there is little evidence of performance monitoring, objective measurements and in some cases, little awareness of the severity of the issues facing Government.”

The report said that the Public Service Commission (PSC) does not have the power to make sure that Government is run well.

And it recommended a revamped structure for the PSC, handling appointments, dismissals, performance rating and succession planning.

The report said: “This body — a governing board for all intents and purposes — must be charged with addressing the issues of leadership and accountability throughout the Civil and Public Service and empowered to oversee, monitor and manage the performance and accomplishments of the persons holding the offices of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service.”

The report added that the Secretary to the Cabinet was currently responsible for Civil Service and public service workers — but said a new post of Head of the Civil Service should be created, with responsibility for managing the operations of Government and assessing the performance of senior Civil Servants.

The two top posts would have their performance assessed by the new-look PSC.

The SAGE Commission said that comparison of Bermuda and other countries showed that “Government is much larger than it needs to be to conduct the island's business and to deliver necessary services to taxpayers.”

The report added there were a total of 47 MPs and Senators, 12 ministries, 72 Government departments and 13 quangos, as well as around 5300 employees.

The Commission said that the cost of running the Legislature should be cut by more than $900,000 on the budgeted amount of $6.079 million.

It added that the number of MPs should go down from 36 to 30, while the Cabinet should be cut from 12 Ministers to eight, including the Premier — which would save an estimated $750,000 in salaries and benefits.

And the report said MPs and Ministers should have their salaries reduced in line with any reductions in salaries and wages paid to public servants.

The SAGE report said: “We believe these actions will underscore to the Bermuda community that our Parliamentarians are serious about addressing the country's debt crisis and that leadership in this regard begins at the top.”

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Published November 16, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 15, 2013 at 11:57 pm)

Urgent reform of Civil Service needed, says SAGE

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