There will be “casualties” at the most senior levels of the States, the new Chief Executive has warned, as he announced plans to rip up the whole structure of government and reform it into a new ‘Whitehall’-style structure.
States CEO Charlie Parker has published his vision of ‘one government’, which will involve a total rethink of the way the public sector is organised, creating seven new departments in what will be the biggest single reform in living memory.
While the move could involve changing or even removing the roles of hundreds of employees in the 8,000-strong organisation, Mr Parker explained that top-level staff were the most likely to lose out.
The first phase of the major restructure will see 22 senior staff lose their positions – saving the States more than £1million a year – and three administrative departments scrapped. But there could be more high-level “casualties” in a bid to drive efficiencies.
Pictured: New States Chief Executive Charlie Parker announcing his plans in a briefing this afternoon.
At present, there are 72 directors and 23 assistant and deputy directors within the States – “too many managers” according to Mr Parker, who also announced a pay freeze for senior managers earning £100,000 or more. At the highest level, he also announced intentions to create the position of ‘Director General’ for Chief Officers.
“[There will be] opportunities for some people to be retrained where appropriate, but where we don’t have a home for them, they will leave the business,” Mr Parker commented.
Those redundancies may also drip into other departments. Mr Parker described the 3,300 separate job profiles within the current workforce as “barmy and completely inappropriate in a modern setting”, warning that the States’ “biggest cost is our headcount.” While he declined to provide a figure of how many staff could be slashed, he said that the organisation would be “significantly reduced.”
Roles particularly affected are likely to be at a “back office” administration level where Mr Parker said he had noted “a lot of duplication” in the work that different members of staff were doing. “Every role must have a benefit to islanders, and if it doesn’t we won’t need it,” a report explaining the proposed changes explained.
The CEO proposes to reorganise public services to better join up the machinery of government, breaking down long-established departmental silos, so the States can provide better and more responsive services to islanders, and deliver the agenda of Ministers more effectively. pic.twitter.com/UrsX2HteXl— States of Jersey (@StatesofJersey) March 6, 2018
Much of that inefficiency behind the scenes should be weeded out, Mr Parker explained, through the creation of seven new departments – many of which split services and bring together others that had previously been apart:
The Office of the Chief Executive – responsible for working with Ministers, dealing with States’ finances and oversight of Brexit and trade
Department for the States Treasurer and Exchequer – responsible for the island’s finances
Department for Customer and Local Services – the ‘front door’ to States services directly dealing with the public
Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills – responsible for focusing on young people, driven by the findings of the Care Inquiry
Department for Health and Community Services – a department with the same remit as the current Health Department, but with an increased focus on community
Department for Justice and Home Affairs – responsible for public protection and the blue light and emergency services
Department for Growth, Housing and Island Environment – an agglomeration of the current Infrastructure, Housing and Environment Departments, which will be responsible for ‘Special Projects’ like the Future Hospital
Department for Strategic Policy, Performance and Population – responsible drafting long-term policies across departments, but by working “alongside them”, rather than in a hierarchical manner, the Chief Executive said
Chief Operating Office – responsible for ‘back office’ services, including HR, procurement, eGov and IT operations
While it’s a dramatic change for the structure of the States, Mr Parker said that this didn’t necessarily have to mean a change for Minister’s roles, but hinted that roles should be created for the areas of ‘digital’ and customer services.
“In the current arrangement, you can still have a Minister for Housing, for Health, for Finance and the Treasury, as well as the Environment and DfI, if you wanted to do that. I think the debate around the Machinery of Government does allow there to be a discussion around whether the current configuration of ministries is right… If you were looking forward, you would want to do something about digital, wouldn’t you? You’d want to do something about the customer.”
The next Chief Minister will also see a change in how they interact with the States. Under Mr Parker’s plans, they’ll instead liaise most closely with a ‘Chief of Staff’, who will also provide support to the rest of the Council of Ministers and coordinate responses to Freedom of Information requests.
Mr Parker also promised that proposals for a States ‘Whitehall’ – a site where all the departments are brought together – would be brought forward in the near future in a bid to discourage departmental “fiefdoms”. “That will be a big catalyst [for change]. We want to bring everyone together, and that will save a lot of money, and it will change the culture of the organisation hugely,” he commented.
Pictured: Mr Parker said that plans for a States 'Whitehall', which would involve bringing departments together instead of in separate buildings such as Cyril Le Marquand House, would be coming "soon".
While Mr Parker hopes for a reformed service to be set in motion by “the end of the calendar year”, the plans have not been set in stone just yet – they will go out for a 90-day consultation period, which will conclude on 4 June. Senior staff, meanwhile, will have a 45-day consultation on the areas of change that affect them.
He said that he was confident that there was appetite for change with many workers exhibiting annoyance at the previous administration – people he hoped would later become “ambassadors for change.” “There is a pent up frustration - some people really want to change and they have been frustrated for some years. Others don’t, and there is a tension between those and we’ll have to manage it. Change is the new rule, and you just have to get over it, and I think we’ve been quite clear about what has to be done, building, hopefully, a consensus around that.”
Moreover, he said that the reforms were based on evidence gathered through 15 workshops, surveys with workers and members of the public, and meetings with over 120 government employees.
But Mr Parker claimed that the process wouldn’t “be without challenges”, with opposition from unions reeling from the States’ decision to cancel their controversial Workforce Modernisation pay deal a potential hindrance.
Pictured: Unions that lobbied hard against a States pay deal, which was today withdrawn, might also express opposition to the reforms, which touch every area of government.
He equally acknowledged that there was potential for problems across departments during the change process, but maintained that the solution would be acting quickly. He said that he had implemented similar sweeping changes to the public sector in his previous two roles – the City of Westminster and Oldham Council – within six months, and soon saw “morale up… [and] value-for-money judgements up” amongst staff.
In his concluding comments during the briefing, Mr Parker made moves to cast off the shadow of his predecessor, John Richardson, arguing that his approach was different and that his attempts to reform the States would definitely be acted on. He said that staff had complained that they hadn’t seen the previous Chief Executive “in several years” and added that his predecessor’s plan for change “probably wasn’t a reform programme, it was an efficiency programme.”
“I don’t know what’s gone on before – all I can tell you is what’s going on now… This is about proper reform, it’s about doing things very very differently.”
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