Deputy Young: ‘OneGov stops ministers from leading officers’

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ONEGOV, a five-year plan to streamline government departments introduced by former chief executive Charlie Parker, will be dismantled if the States support a proposition lodged by the Environment Minister.

Deputy John Young, a persistent critic of ‘the disconnect between our ministerial structure and the way staff are organised in departments’, wants individual ministers to again be responsible for all aspects of their department’s work.

He believes the need to roll back the structure implemented by Mr Parker in 2018 is ‘imperative’, as it has created difficulties with which he has struggled throughout his term.

This would unravel the structure introduced by Mr Parker where some departments – operating under senior civil servants, known as directors general, reporting to the chief executive – are accountable simultaneously to more than one minister.

According to Deputy Young, this causes problems both for ministerial accountability and service delivery.

‘This is a structural problem, not the fault of any individual minister or officer. Ministers in this situation cannot provide effective political leadership to a team of officers and cannot rely on the wholehearted support of a chief officer who is torn in two or more directions.

‘The director general is in an impossible position, trying to deliver for multiple ministers,’ Deputy Young says in the report accompanying his proposition, which was lodged yesterday[Wed].

Under his proposition, the States Employment Board will be asked to direct officers to draw up options to remedy the situation by autumn this year.

The minister, who has said he will stand down from the States at this summer’s elections, also wants to scrap the single legal entity that would replace ministerial corporations.

It was approved in 2018 but has yet to be implemented.

Deputy Young believes it ‘would significantly change power dynamics within the States and within departments in ways which haven’t been properly thought through’.

‘Jersey politics works best when Members work together to achieve changes which have widespread approval.

‘The “corporation sole” concept is well understood and works: a sudden change to a single legal entity will confuse many people and will conflict with the Island’s consensual political culture.

‘The single legal entity idea is not widely supported and should be removed from the law,’ he said.

Deputy Young also wants to implement a process for the Chief Minister to review ministerial portfolios after every general election, which would ‘enable the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers to respond to the changed strategic and operational challenges they face’.

In his proposition, Deputy Young pays tribute to the work of the Democratic Accountability and Governance sub-committee, whose report was published last month by the Privileges and Procedures Committee.

Chaired by Senator Tracey Vallois, the sub-committee was composed of Senator Sam Mézec, Constable John Le Bailly and Deputy Kirsten Morel, as well as Senator Ian Gorst and Constable Richard Buchanan who served, respectively, as Chief Minister and Assistant Chief Minister. Mr Parker led the civil service.

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