Public Sector Reform – personal comment

I made the following speech on public sector reform during the debate in September 2015.

Sir, speaking personally, normally I have to say that my natural scepticism could have kicked in and I would say that it is a lot of nice, fancy words – ‘motherhood and apple pie’ – but little substance. However, I have already seen the Chief Executive practice what he preaches. The support that he has given the board of HSSD, over the last 10 months, demonstrates that quite clearly and gives me the confidence that this document will not gather dust.

I totally concur with paragraph 6.6. We Deputies should have less day-to-day involvement in the delivery of public sector services, but that public servants need to provide appropriate financial management and performance information to provide assurance to the boards – committees, I suppose we are meant to call them in the future – that those services are being run effectively and efficiently and in accordance with all relevant legislation and professional standards.

Now, that is all very well and good, but when it goes wrong we get the brickbats. Just witness the sea front changes. This is not an area of high level strategy and policy; it is about where lines are painted on a road.

Under this scenario, we should have been seeing officers dealing with the complaints, not the Ministers of Environment or PSD. Whether that will ever happen, I am far less certain, but to enable it to happen there needs to be trust. That does not mean that we, as politicians, should not continue to challenge and, despite what some might think, every Deputy with whom I have been on a board or committee these last few years has challenged management and should continue to do so. That is how positive change will happen, so long as the challenge is constructive, of course.

Finally, I would like to touch on the need to embrace technology. I believe that the appointment of a Chief Information Officer has already resulted in positive change through an expert ‘can do’ mind-set that gives me hope good things will happen. We only scratch the surface of what can be done with new technology at the moment, but it has the potential to provide real transformation, from telemedicine and telehealth, to enabling people to access services 24/7.

So will this work? After all, it is an immense programme. It is going take a leap of faith but, frankly, I do believe that is what we have to do. The key is leadership. Change will come from a change of culture at the top, with the engagement of those below. It is a mighty difficult job to do but, from this document and what I have witnessed in the last 10 months, I do believe that it is a risk that has to be taken and I, for one, hope that it succeeds.

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