Scrutineers are calling for the recruitment of the new Government CEO to be delayed until after the elections in case there is an influx of new political leaders with different priorities.
Led by Senator Kristina Moore, the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel has written to the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, calling for the final appointment to be pushed back until after June 2022.
Paul Martin was hired as Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Government on a 12-month contract which is due to end in February 2022.
He was appointed after his predecessor, Charlie Parker agreed to step down in the wake over a row about taking on a second job as a Non-Executive Director at UK real estate firm New River.
Recruitment for a permanent CEO started in March with the deadline for applications set for 19 April. Shortlisted candidates were expected at the time to be interviewed in late June.
Pictured: Paul Martin was appointed as interim CEO.
In her letter, Senator Moore said that delaying the recruitment until a new Council of Ministers is in place would "avoid a repeat of the previous recruitment process" - Mr Parker took up his new role just months before the 2018 elections brought in a new Chief Minister.
“This would allow greater transparency with regards management style and certain objective setting," she further argued.
“The importance of this concern is particularly relevant when considering the comments made in the former Chief Executive Performance Appraisal, which set a target for the second year in office to 'Strengthen the relationship and rapport between himself and the Chief Minister'."
It is unlikely that the Chief Minister will agree, however. When Senator Sam Mézec asked a similar question in the States Assembly earlier this week, Senator John Le Fondré was firm that no delay was necessary because the role of the CEO is "not a political one."
“The role of the chief civil servant should be neutral to be able to carry out the wishes of Ministers and politicians," he said.
Senator Moore's Panel is currently reviewing the Government’s People and Culture strategy, including employee engagement and working environment.
She noted in her letter that employees had indicated “very low levels of confidence in leadership” particularly in relation to the scores surrounding ‘person leading the organisation’ in the Be Heard survey, which was conducted in 2020, prior to Mr Parker's departure.
Pictured: The Scrutiny Panel is suggesting delaying the appointment of a new CEO until the new Council of Ministers has been elected.
“The Panel recognises that every employee impacts the culture within the Government of Jersey but that it is widely acknowledged that leadership has by far the largest and most direct effect on the culture within the Public Sector,” she added.
“Leaders cultivate the foundations of culture and it has the collective responsibility to demonstrate the right beliefs of the Government of Jersey and reinforce behaviours that reflect those values.
“Given the survey results and the importance of leadership it would appear imperative, to the Panel, that employees see that action and clear direction and commitment to workplace culture is made at the highest level.”
Senator Moore added that a States Employment Board review into Mr Parker’s original appointment process still hadn’t started, despite the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) recommending it takes place “as a matter of urgency” for lessons to be learned from the previous process.
Pictured: Senator Kristina Moore, the Chair of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel.
In addition, a review of the Employment of States of Jersey Employees Law 2005, carried out in 2019 and which included amendments to clarify the functions of the Chief Executive/Head of the Public Service including the stewardship of the public sector, has yet to be debated and agreed by the States Assembly.
“Prior to progressing further, the Panel concludes that it is imperative to consider lessons learned, adapt practices and ensure that all employment matters are transparent and clear especially in relation to management and disciplinary matters for all parties,” Senator Moore wrote.
“The Panel conclude that the adoption of this approach would increase the attraction, appointment, and retention of a suitably qualified permanent candidate.”
The Panel also suggested Scrutiny should be involved in the selection process and review the decision-making processes to ensure they are “clear, accessible and accountable”, arguing the selection of the Chief Executive is an “opportunity to increase public and employee confidence in the appointment process”.
The Panel is expecting a response from the Chief Minister by Monday 14 June.
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