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Spending watchdog: publish more detail on staff pay-offs and consultants!

Spending watchdog: publish more detail on staff pay-offs and consultants!

Monday 24 August 2020

Spending watchdog: publish more detail on staff pay-offs and consultants!


Government-controlled bodies should include the cost of consultants, and information about pay-offs, in their annual reports, according to the spending watchdog.

Today, the Comptroller and Auditor General has published a document looking at how the Government and organisations it controls share financial performance and other information with the public.

Lynn Pamment wants to see greater transparency on staff pay across all bodies that the Government has set up and/or controls.

This includes publication of the average salary in each department or organisation, sickness absence data, expenditure on consultants, "summary data" on staff pay-offs and more details about “off-payroll engagements."

CAG_Lynn_Pamment.jpg

Pictured: Comptroller & Auditor General Lynn Pamment.

She said: “For 19 of the entities reviewed there was little or no reporting of staff-related matters in the annual report. Where staff matters were reported it tended to be a narrative regarding policies rather than specific staff data.”

She also wants to see an annual assessment of the effectiveness of the Chief Executive or board’s performance, a "frank and honest assessment" of discussions and decisions made, and details about employee engagement over the year.

After reviewing the Government’s own accounts and 37 arms-length and other bodies, Mrs Pamment concludes that the Government has implemented an inconsistent set of requirements when it comes to what should be published and where it should be made available.

She has found that, for a significant number of organisations, annual accounts are not published on their websites and limited financial information is reported publicly.

This includes Jersey Finance, which produces an annual report of activities but doesn’t reveal where their money has been spent, and Digital Jersey - although the latter has now made a commitment to publish a report and accounts each year.

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Pictured: Jersey Finance produce an annual review but not a financial statement.

Alongside her review, Mrs Pamment has produced a ‘good-practice guide’ for States-backed entities to follow when producing their annual report.

She said: “High quality annual reports are fundamental to effective accountability. The best reports demonstrate and communicate impact and value for money in an open, balanced and engaging way.

“There is value in developing a coherent framework for annual reports of public sector and publicly funded entities. Appropriate financial information should be available publicly alongside or with the annual report of the entity.

“All entities should aspire to improve the content and accessibility of their public annual reports. Strategic objectives should be reported transparently, should be assessed against risks and should be measured against relevant, quantifiable key performance indicators on a consistent basis.”

Other recommendations include:

  • Statistics Jersey should produce an annual report, which it doesn’t at the moment.
  • Chief Executive Charlie Parker should put his name to the States’ Annual Performance Report by signing it, a requirement that was taken away last year.
  • All annual reports should include “best-practice accountability“ reports including a directors’ report, a statement of responsibilities, a governance report and a remuneration and staff report.

Responding to the findings of the report, Assistant Chief Minister Constable Richard Buchanan commented: "I’d like to thank the C&AG for their thorough review and acknowledgement of the progress we have made in establishing an organisation-wide complaints policy. The report highlights a number of key areas for us to focus on which will help shape our plans moving forward.

"We understand that we have further to go and have already taken important steps by developing an entirely new approach to complaints handling as well as actively encouraging feedback from all of our customers. We have a new policy in place and have made it easier for our customers to submit a complaint, compliment or suggestion online. I welcome the recommendations of this report, which will help us as we continue to improve the services we provide for islanders."

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