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Plans to overhaul Gov CEO recruitment process

Plans to overhaul Gov CEO recruitment process

Monday 17 January 2022

Plans to overhaul Gov CEO recruitment process

Monday 17 January 2022


States Members would be asked to approve a "decision-maker" to independently recruit the island's top civil servant under new plans to overhaul the process for selecting senior civil servants.

Currently, the 'Jersey Appointments Commission' (JAC) oversees the recruitment of Government employees and appointments to related public bodies.

However, a panel of politicians known as the States Employment Board (SEB) ultimately ratify any senior appointments, acting as official 'Employer' and setting public sector workers' pay and terms and conditions.

But the Government is seeking to tear up current processes and create a new body called the Jersey Public Appointments Commission to oversee all public appointments.

They said their proposed changes arose from issues flagged by their watchdog.

In a report on the ‘Role and Operation of the States Employment Board’, previous Comptroller and Auditor General Karen McConnell found that the JAC was not independent enough, with the States Assembly able to dismiss a Commissioner on any grounds or direct them to prepare a report on any matter.

She also found that the JAC’s funding and resourcing arrangements created a conflict of interest with the Government’s own human resources function, given its role in regulating public sector employment activities.

The Council of Ministers agreed to bring forward changes which have now been published, with the public invited to share their views as part of a consultation. 

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Pictured: Former Comptroller and Auditor General, Karen McConnell, had raised issues over weaknesses in the JAC's arrangements.

The proposals include establishing the Jersey Public Appointments Commission as a body corporate, like the Data Protection Authority and the Jersey Care Commission. This would mean the Commission’s remit would be broader than States of Jersey employees, to include all Jersey public appointments in general, excluding parishes.

It is suggested the Commission should consist of a chair and between three and seven Commissioners.

The Chair would be appointed by the States Assembly, with the Chief Minister responsible for putting forward a candidate, with suitable experience in recruitment within public offices, management at a senior level and other matters. Meanwhile, the Chair of the Scrutiny Liaison Committee will nominate the individual responsible for overseeing the recruitment process of the Commission’s Chair.

The length of the Chair’s appointment will be determined by the Chief Minister but it should not exceed five years, although it will be possible for them to be reappointed as long as they do not serve for more than nine years, whether in consecutive or separate terms in office. 

States Members, as well as those who have left the States Assembly, held a public office or had any interest in any States Assembly administration in the four years prior to their appointment will be barred from being appointed as Chair.

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Pictured: The Chair of the Jersey Public Appointments Commission would be appointed by the States Assembly.

To remove a chair from office, the Chief Minister will have to make a proposition which the States will debate in private. The Chair will decide how many commissioners sit on the commission and select individuals for the Chief Minister to appoint.

To guarantee the independence of the Commission, the new law will state the Commissioner must not be directed on how any function of the office is carried out, whilst the Chair’s terms of employment, along with those of the commissioners, should be amended so that they are not considered as a contract of employment between the Chief Minister, the States and the appointed person.

“It is important that Commissioners are not actually or perceived as government employees,” the consultation document notes. 

In addition, the proposals state the Commission shouldn’t have to “negotiate” its jurisdiction with the SEB, which will be just one of many bodies falling under its jurisdiction. 

The Chair will be able to make recommendations as to which public bodies should fall within its schedule, after having consulted them. If the Chief Minister refuses the addition, the Chair might decide to report on this in the Commission’s annual report.

Overall, the Commission will have the same powers and functions as the current JAC. One of the major changes in the functions is that the Commission will no longer be involved in the decision of who to appoint as Government CEO. 

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Pictured: The proposals aim to remove politicians from the recruitment process for Government CEO.

The consultation document notes it is not appropriate for an “independent appointments regulator” to hold such responsibility. However, it also adds the SEB, as a political body, should not do so either.

Therefore, it is being proposed that the SEB appoint a “suitably qualified person” to act as the decision maker in the CEO appointment process. This should only be a person who has “the expertise and experience necessary to act as decision maker in a senior appointment process” and the SEB will have to present a report before the States Assembly setting out their intention to appoint that person. The SEB will not be able to appoint the person until a two-week period has expired, allowing States Members time to challenge the nominee, should they wish to do so.

Meanwhile, the Commission will be responsible for ensuring the recruitment is done in a fair and efficient manner and that the successful candidate is appointed on merit. 

“The changes set out above provide that the independent appointments regulator will act as such, with the SEB nominating an independent, suitability qualified person to act as the appointment decision maker – i.e. they ensure the appointment decision making process is separated from SEB whilst retaining and upholding the role of the independent regulator,” consultation documents explained.

If the proposals are adopted, when the new legislation comes into force, the Jersey Appointments Commission - which is currently led by Dame Janet Paraskeva - established under the 2005 Law will be abolished. 

Islanders are being invited to share their views on the proposals until 14 February 2022.

READ MORE...

INSIGHT: So, you want to recruit a new Gov CEO...Express contrasts and compares the processes to select the island's three most recent CEOs - and how much they cost.

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Posted by Michael Du Pré on
This would be a great step forwards in improving the machinery of Jersey’s government. A good measure of independence would be introduced and the policy of ‘dead men’s’ shoes which has in the past ( except in the most recent case) effectively been followed would be dispensed with and glowing CV’s purporting to have carried out miracles elsewhere would not simply be accepted but investigated properly. Hopefully, the next move will be to create an independent Environmental regulator…..
Posted by David Moon on
This is all very fine but we do need to move away from appointing ex UK people to all the top public offices who do bot have any knowledge of the Island's history and culture and make appointments from the local pool of expertise who may not have held high flying roles in the UK but are perfectly competent for the role in Jersey. Otherwise the door is closed and all the people on whom so much money is lavished for their education is pointless. Just imagine if States Members were subject the same appointments process!
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