Today’s Editorial July 05: Making government more accountable

It appears countries within our region are struggling with their civil servants.

In an address during the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference held in Cayman a couple of weeks ago, one of the speakers said some civil servants are not getting the job done.

The problem arises in that in most Western Hemisphere democracies there is a two-tier system of governance. There are those who are elected and set broad policy goals and then the civil servants whose job it is to execute those plans.

If the civil servant charged with the task of implementing plans he or she doesn’t approve of, or if he or she simply doesn’t like the minister, life for all can become difficult.

We have seen ministers and civil servants butt heads in the Cayman Islands, and the results usually haven’t been very pretty.

At the end of the day it is members of the public who suffer when elected officials and civil servants, the people who are supposed to work for them, can’t get along.

Fortunately our Government has identified problems with the civil servant system and is making strides to improve conditions in that sector.

Civil servants in the Cayman Islands have received an eight per cent pay increase since late last year.

A law passed in January will also hold top ranking civil servants more accountable.

Under the new law each chief officer will get a certain budget to work with and must achieve certain outputs. If they don’t reach those goals, ministers will be able to withhold payment to the offending departments.

It’s an effort to make Government and civil servants more accountable to the Average Joe.

But with this new change, training is going to be needed.

A Civil Service College is slated to open in September.

The college will afford those who are already in the civil servant system to learn new skills and advance in their careers.

It will also give new entrants the training they will need to effectively do their jobs.

As the professor of the new school said recently, it isn’t the fact that we have bad people or bumbling idiots in civil servant jobs; it’s the fact we haven’t given them the opportunity to be great.

The above mentioned moves are a clear indication that the Cayman Islands Government is trying to make all of government more accountable.

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