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Government criticised for ‘back door’ recruitment

Government criticised for ‘back door’ recruitment

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Government criticised for ‘back door’ recruitment


The Government has been criticised for not following good practice in its recruitment process for its most highly paid workers, instead hiring senior staff via the "back door".

The comments come from the Jersey Appointments Commission which is tasked with overseeing the recruitment of top-level Government employees, appointees and senior members of independent bodies.

In the Panel's annual report for 2019 – described as a "particularly busy year" with 22 appointments in the civil service and 19 key appointments in the independent sector – the commission noted they had found some evidence that the correct appointments process was being circumvented.

This is despite the commission's guidelines, which outline good practice in recruitment, and which all departments and state-funded bodies are expected to comply with. 

contract lease signature

Pictured: Some government departments have been using an "‘expediency’ back door route" rather than a robust recruitment process.

The commission suggested that the use of procurement process may have contributed to what they described as a “lack of overall control" on the number of interim contracts, as some departments chosen “an ‘expediency’ back door route rather than a more robust process”. 

The first report on consultants' use published in December last year revealed that the government had spent over £11m on consultants in just six months.

The JAC also alerted to the fact some interim employees are being transferred to new and different interim roles without due process. “While we can understand the desire to move at pace, we are concerned that in some cases corners are being cut,” the JAC commented.

Further questions were also raised in the report about how staff should call out bad practice.

Jersey plane

Pictured: Staff have sometimes "informally approached" the JAC to report breaches of travel policy.

"We are sometimes approached informally by staff, who do not feel able to use the whistleblowing procedures established for their use because their concerns relate to conversations overheard among more senior officers, for example a potential breach in travel policy," they explained.

"The JAC needs an identifiable route for such matters."

The Commission recommended that those sitting on recruitment panels should receive “training in unconscious bias” as well as recruitment.

This recommendation came after commissioners overseeing recruitment had to intervene to prevent the use of inappropriate comment or questions for some applicants, such as asking a candidate on their child-care arrangements.

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Pictured: The Commission suggested those sitting in recruitment panels receive training.

“Training in selection should not be a once and for ever event but should consist of regular refresher programmes as standards improve and take account of new legislation and case-law,” the JAC said.

Deputy Jeremy Maçon made a similar bid concerning States Members last month as part of proposals aimed at ensuring greater diversity in the political sphere.

The Commission also noted that some Government departments had “omitted” a question that would have pledged their compliance with good recruitment practice in their accountable officer's annual return.

“....And so we have no way of measuring overall compliance throughout departments in roles where Commissioners are not personally involved,” the JAC said. 

“This is of significant concern as inclusion would bind the responsible officer to the practice expected throughout their department and will result in spot check audits during the next year.”

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Pictured: Data collected during the application process is not being properly analysed.

The Government was also criticised for not analysing the data collected during the application process due to the absence of IT systems that would make this “an easy task” as a result of historic underinvestment. 

“There seems to be no systematic way of easily assessing the gender balance, residential status, sexual orientation, age, BAME candidates or those with any disability,” the JAC explained. 

“The effective use of good statistics can facilitate learning and improvement as well as compliance with discrimination laws and robust defence, where warranted, to claims of discrimination in the Jersey Employment Discrimination Tribunal.”

diary

Pictured: The commission said the government sometimes took too long to start recruiting leading to a rushed process.

Elsewhere in the report, the JAC identified delays in starting the recruitment process, which led to a rushed selection and lack of preparation. 

“This makes difficulties for the administrative team who then need to coordinate busy diaries and schedules at the last minute,” the JAC said. “This is sometimes still the case even when an interim has been in place for some time and the need for a permanent appointment has been well-known and documented.”  

In some cases, commissioners were invited too late and were therefore not available to attend, despite their overseeing role being essential.

The commission also highlighted that some recruitment panels still do not have an equal number of men and women.

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Posted by William Boyd on
Questions should also be asked as to whether these people are on the regular establishment of the civil service. If they are they are subject to income tax and social security deductions. If not and they are paid as individuals employed by their own companies (like the BBC presenters who avoided national insurance contributions) I fail to see how they can order permanent civil servants about. Nothing surprises me any more about this whole transformation process and the seemingly endless tide of UK 'experts' being imported and it seems not quite properly.
Posted by Jon Jon on
The things coming out the closet now, and no doubt more to come!
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