Government Chief Executive Charlie Parker and the Chief Minister have come under criticism after failing to reveal the amount spent on the major ‘OneGov’ reform project so far.
In a letter, Constable Karen Shenton-Stone blasted the Chief Minister for using “rhetoric” as a means not to provide information on the cost of the project, and to “distract” politicians and the public.
She also expressed concern that the Chief Executive had not done more to provide reassurance on the financial management of scheme, later commenting: “If these figures are not available, the Government must hold the CEO to account and demand answers.”
The Constable’s comments came in her capacity as Chair of a panel of politicians tasked with reviewing the single biggest shake-up to the public sector in living memory, which the Chief Executive Charlie Parker has pledged will deliver savings and drive efficiency in the organisation as it aims to plug a forecast £30million 'black hole'.
Pictured: Constable Shenton-Stone, Chair of the OneGov Review Panel.
In late May, she wrote to Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré to request “the amount spent on the OneGov project to date”, the business case for the project, in addition to a number of reports documenting the scheme’s progress by 6 June.
The Chief Minister replied on 10 June, telling the Constable that it would not be “possible to collate information on the OneGov costs at short notice.”
In his response, Senator Le Fondré also stated that it is “important to note that One Government is a term used in the Government of Jersey to refer to a number of interrelated (but not necessarily interdependent) modernisation programmes, which are being managed independently.”
Nonetheless, he said he would seek to provide the information as soon as possible.
But the response far from satisfied the panel, attracting criticism from the OneGov scrutineers, which include Senators Sarah Ferguson and Kristina Moore, and Deputies Kirsten Morel and Rob Ward.
Pictured: Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré.
In a recently-published reply, Constable Shenton-Stone criticised the Chief Minister for using a “distinction between an overall OneGov project, and One Government being a number of interrelated modernisation programmes” as an excuse to “omit the requested information relating to costings.”
It is of great concern to this Panel that the Chief Minister, the Council of Ministers and the Chief Executive (CEO) have begun to use this rhetoric in an attempt to distract Scrutiny, Members and the general public from the fact that One Gov has been, and remains, a large-scale change management project… A collection of interrelated modernisation programmes, as you have described it, is indeed a project and should be managed and described as such in the interest of transparency and accountability,” she wrote.
Turning to the topic of funding and costs of the project so far, following on from a recommendation by the government spending watchdog that financial management be improved, the Constable noted: “The Panel finds it hard to believe that the CEO has not taken this opportunity to display best practice financial management for such a large project and programme of work. We would also expect that the Council of Ministers and the Chief Minister would hold the CEO to account.
“There should have been an initial assessment of the changes that are underway and the cost of implementing them at an overarching project level. If these figures are not available, the Government must hold the CEO to account and demand answers.”
Pictured: Chief Executive Charlie Parker.
Among the most significant costs of the OneGov programme so far are the £3.5million recruitment of UK firm TDP to ‘change the culture’ in the public sector, moving to a new Broad Street headquarters, which is expected to cost £7million.
Questions have also been raised over the cost of employing interim staff and highly-paid consultants in order to progress the government-wide shake-up, which has included the creation of new departments and merging of existing ones.
Last month, Express revealed that the bill for travel and accommodation for interim staff had hit nearly £600,000 in just 18 months. The biggest spender was the newly-created Chief Operating Office, with expenses totalling £348,152.
The department later defended its spending, explaining that it arose from a need to recruit talent that was not available locally within a short timeframe.
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.