The Government has failed to implement the most significant recommendation from a critical review of its HR processes after three years.
This week, Comptroller and Auditor General Lynn Pamment has concluded that ministers have not acted on a call from one of her predecessors in 2019 to “fundamentally review the framework for the oversight of human resources of the States.”
However, Mrs Pamment has found that “considerable progress” had been made in implementing other recommendations made in the 2019 review.
That report focused on the role and operation of the States’ Employment Board, a panel of politicians, chaired by the Chief Minister, which is the official employer of the island’s 8,000 civil servants.
It does not, however, have a role in recruiting, which is overseen by the independent Jersey Appointments Commission.
The review then concluded that the arrangements for the SEB were not fit for purpose.
Pictured: Comptroller and Auditor General Lynn Pamment.
This month, Mrs Pamment has returned to it and written a progress report. One of her principal findings is that a close look at how HR is overseen by SEB, and how the JAC feeds into that process, has not taken place.
In short, she says that the Government needs to get on with this review as a matter of urgency.
The C&AG also finds that legislation to guarantee the independence of the JAC, which the 2019 report had recommended, is still in draft form and should be put to the Assembly as soon as possible.
But good progress has been made in a number of areas, she concludes.
She says: “The publication of a People Strategy in November 2021 was an important milestone in setting out the high-level objectives and a clear strategy for developing the public service.
“The People Strategy now needs to be delivered in a systematic and prioritised manner ensuring that regular checks are made on its impact.
“There is still work to be done to review and address the weaknesses in oversight of the management of the workforce, reported by the C&AG in 2019 and the Democratic Accountability and Governance Sub-Committee in 2022.
“Weaknesses remain relating to the establishment and functions of the SEB and the JAC. In addition, there are ambiguities and gaps in the current arrangements.”
The C&AG makes 18 recommendations and identifies seven areas of work that the Government needs to prioritise.
Ensure effective arrangements are in place to monitor compliance with mandatory health and safety training requirements including providing regular reports to the SEB on the extent of compliance.
Consider how to make the SEB more transparent and visible to staff, the States Assembly and the public by:
reviewing the ‘Part A’ and ‘Part B’ meeting content to consider whether any more could go into a public agenda;
considering the flow of documentation both to and from the SEB and ensure that the senior team is fully sighted of both the agenda and the decisions made;
publishing a summary for staff, the States Assembly and the public on the business and key issues discussed at each SEB;
improving further the content of the SEB Annual Report to include a clear narrative as to whether the SEB has met its plan for the year and what actions are required in the following year.
Undertake a review to ensure the nature and role of all advisors to the Government, including those who are unpaid, are documented.
Work plans that should be prioritised, according to the C&AG, include “determining the requirement for independent advisors to the SEB and commence the process of recruitment” and “giving priority to ensuring that workforce planning is delivered consistently and accurately across departments by the end of 2022.”
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