Cabinet Secretary Highlights Success of Executive Agencies


Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Carlton Davis has said that the creation of Executive Agencies has proven to be a huge success in the thrust to modernise the public sector.
Speaking at the Human Resource Development Conference, put on by the Management Institute for National Development (MIND), at the Knutsford Court Hotel recently, Dr. Davis pointed out that, “every single executive agency has recorded levels of performance in one area or another, not seen in its previous dispensation.”
Dr. Davis pointed out that the success of the agencies was corroborated by a recent telephone survey of some 1,002 persons from all 14 parishes across the island, which revealed that 64 per cent of Jamaicans thought that the government agencies were providing better services. This, he added, was a good rating.
Citing the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), which has been an executive agency since 1999, he said it bore clear marks of improvement in the delivery of services, adding that the positive changes included the establishment of branch offices across the island, mobile units, outreach programmes to the Diaspora in North America and Europe, the use of information and communication technologies, and was operating 22 hours per day.
He noted that as a result of the change across the agencies, employees have displayed a sense of pride in “recognizing that they are giving important service for which they are accountable.” Despite the high levels of success, Dr. Davis noted that the transition to executive agencies has not been without challenges.
Among the challenges was the fact that the Advisory Boards of the executive agencies had not worked particularly well. He also noted that some Permanent Secretaries viewed the creation of executive agencies in their Ministries as a form of divestment and so “wash their hands of the matter and pay no attention to it.”
Another constraint is posed by the “desirable Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the trade unions,” he informed, noting that while the arrangement helped to control the fiscal deficit, it constrained the authority of the CEO, in that “you are almost creeping back to a .central direction and defeating the purpose of flexibility in making decisions.”
He also said that the departure or pending departure of some of the main initiators of the reforms has presented a concern, as the entire public sector was not united on the issue of reform.
Dr. Davis said this could affect the direction and the pace of the reforms in the future, but stressed that, “as long as strong personalities who are behind the reforms are in place, the reforms will be driven.”
The Cabinet Secretary pointed out that nine executive agencies have so far been created under the Public Sector Modernisation Programme (PSMP), and that the philosophy guiding the agencies had as a chief component, “the delegation of authority in human resource matters to Permanent Secretaries as well as the Chief Executive Officers of executive agencies.”
Another tenet of the executive agency approach “is the instilling of a culture of quality customer service through initiating citizen charters and a best customer service competition and inculcating a culture of performance management,” Dr. Davis informed. The conference was hosted by MIND, in collaboration with the Public Sector Reform Unit of the Cabinet Office; the Office of the Services Commissions; the Jamaica Civil Service Association, and the Jamaica Employers’ Federation.

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