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Scott demands Civil Service clarity

The Government should say if it is to create an extra $200,000-plus post with the appointment of a new Cabinet secretary, Opposition deputy leader Leah Scott said yesterday.

The call came after it was announced on Monday that Derrick Binns's job of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service was to be split in two.

Dr Binns will take on the job of Head of the Civil Service.

Ms Scott said: “The Government has not indicated whether Ms Cherie Whitter, who currently serves as the Deputy Head of the Civil Service, will remain in that role.

“The Sage committee recommendation is that two roles — Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service — be established and that both of those positions have equal seniority.”

“With Dr Binns assuming the role of the Head of the Civil Service, will the role of the Deputy Head of the Civil Service be redundant or will we now have three six-figure posts?” Ms Scott said.

“We are asking the Government to clarify this point for the people of Bermuda because creating another six-figure position will negatively impact the public purse.”

The Sage Commission, set up to assess government efficiency, recommended in 2013 that Dr Binns's job should be split and that the senior role of Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet should be abolished.

The Government has failed to answer questions about whether it will shed another top-tier job to cut the cost to taxpayers.

The new Cabinet secretary will be paid the same as Dr Binns, almost $210,000 per year.

What is not clear is the cost of the changes. The Government has refused to answer questions posed by The Royal Gazette on that matter.

If the Deputy Head of the Civil Service role remains, the decision to split the top job in two will mean the public will foot the bill for another $209,894 post.

If the Government makes the post redundant, the additional cost to the public purse will be less than $20,000 a year.

The position of Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet no longer exists, according to the Cabinet Office's organisational chart.

Dr Binns's deputy is Ms Whitter, who has been DHCS since April 2014 and earns about $192,000 a year.

She is in charge of public service reform, which will become the responsibility of Dr Binns as Head of the Civil Service.

Ms Whitter and Dr Binns, along with Anthony Manders, the Financial Secretary and Marc Telemaque, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of National Security, were identified in the Commission of Inquiry's 2016 report as having failed to follow rules on government contracts along with four others who have either retired or since left the Civil Service.

The independent inquiry found that the actions of Dr Binns, Ms Whitter and Mr Telemaque contributed to the overspend of $72 million of public money during the Progressive Labour Party's previous tenure as government.

The commissioners recommended the Government “urgently review” Civil Service personnel by conducting a “frank, independent assessment of whether all current leaders of the Civil Service have appropriate skill sets, perspective and motivation to effect needed change”.

They added: “If not, ascertain whether this can be improved with training.”

The Royal Gazette asked the Cabinet Office if the review had been carried out and for the results of the review if completed, but the request was refused.

A spokeswoman said: “Identifying and hiring the next Secretary to the Cabinet is the responsibility of the Public Service Commission.

“Other than this, we will not comment on human resources matters.”

Ms Whitter, Mr Telemaque and Mr Manders, who are among the top figures in the public service, could be under consideration for the post of Secretary to the Cabinet.

A question to the Cabinet Office about whether the commission's findings would rule them out also got no response.

Deputy Opposition leader Leah Scott

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Published January 17, 2018 at 3:14 pm (Updated January 18, 2018 at 8:23 am)

Scott demands Civil Service clarity

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