JIS News

Following its conversion into an Executive Agency on May 1 this year, the Forestry Department within the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is now being transformed into a more efficient entity.
Even though it remains a part of Central Government, the agency now has more responsibility for its own management and performance, and as such, can be classified as a semi-autonomous government agency.
In an interview with JIS News, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Conservator of Forests at the Forestry Department, Marilyn Headley, explains that the move is another aspect of the Public Sector Modernisation thrust of the Government, which began in 1999.
The modernisation programme’s main objectives are the institutional strengthening of the Public Sector Reform Unit; modernisation of key Ministries; establishment of new Executive Agencies and performance based institutions; modernisation of the Cabinet Office; rationalisation of Human Resource Management; implementation of Performance Management and Appraisal System (PMAS) Government-wide; conducting Government-wide Employment Survey; and attending to emerging public sector reform issues.
“The whole aim is to look at the Departments and see how they can be upgraded into a more efficiently run entity focused on performance. So, we are actually a performance based institution and the model that they have adopted is the Executive Agency model,” Ms. Headley notes, adding that the aim is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the department.
She says the Forestry Department has been transformed into a Model B Executive Agency. Ms. Headley further notes that a strategic and organisational review was completed to examine the various aspects of the agency that needed improvement, and was used in determining the measures to be taken to modernise the agency.
“Schemes of management were approved in 2008 by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service. All members of the new structure are not in place, but the processes to move now to an Executive Agency have been met,” she points out.
The Conservator of Forests notes that the move towards greater efficiency and an accrual system, where everything is accounted for, is of utmost importance to the agency.
“It is critical that our strategic plans are kept up to date and administered and we work with the people. How do we get along, how do we get the information out to people, all those things are critical to us, so we are just moving into that phase to implement those sections,” she adds.
She tells JIS News that the delivery of service is of great importance for the transition to occur smoothly. “We now have to think service oriented; the client is important and we cannot take anything for granted,” the CEO says, adding that existing programmes within the agency will be strengthened in the process.
Ms. Headley points out that even though the agency is not a “big revenue earner”, measures are being explored and implemented to change this.
“We have a responsibility to manage and protect forest reserves, but we do have timber and other products for sale. We are currently developing a business plan, which will identify the different revenue sources for the agency,” she says.
In addition, Ms. Headley notes that certain business plans will need to be examined to identify other potential revenue sources within the sector, pointing out that eco-tourism and nature tourism are areas which can be explored.
“A lot of the forest areas have potential for nature tourism without one actually cutting the trees and selling them for timber. So, you keep the trees standing and you have some cabins and put in some trails, so the key now is to manage them efficiently and be able to produce some of the revenue,” she says.
As an Executive Agency, the Forestry Department will also: provide a safe and healthy environment for customers and staff; provide a rewarding working environment for staff that enhances job satisfaction and rewards improved customer satisfaction levels; monitor customer needs with the aim of improving the reliability, quality and accessibility of services; discharge its functions with due regard to efficiency and economy and the financial objectives and performance targets that it has been set.
The agency has responsibility for the management, protection and conservation of forest resources. It manages mainly Government-owned forests, while offering technical support and information to private land owners with established forests on their private lands.
The Executive Agencies Act was passed in 2002, the principal objects of which are: the establishment of Executive Agencies; the promotion of prudent, effective and efficient management in Executive Agencies; the provision of appropriate mechanisms for proper management, accountability and transparency in the operation of Executive Agencies; and the enhancement of the effective and efficient delivery of goods and services to the public.
A primary aim of establishing Executive Agencies is to reduce central control and delegate authority to the Chief Executive Officers in the various Government institutions. Another aim is to substantially improve the quality and quantity of services provided by Government agencies.
The CEO is given full autonomy over the management of the agency’s financial and human resources. The CEO will be held responsible for performance targets developed and agreed on with the responsible Permanent Secretary.

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