As part of the government’s initiative to restructure the civil service, the Recreation, Parks and Cemeteries Unit has merged with the Public Works Department.
Formed in 2006, the parks unit had 24 employees – all Caymanian – as of June 2011, according to the government’s annual HR Report 2010/2011.
Alan Jones, chief officer in the Cayman Islands Ministry of Finance, District Administration, Works, Land and Agriculture, announced the decision 19 March via a news release. The merger is expected to save government about $270,000 per year.
The ministry budgeted $1.6 million for “management of public recreational facilities and cemeteries” this year, according to the government’s 2012/13 Annual Plan and Estimates.
The government’s overall restructuring plan is known as Project 1: “Rationalisation and Transformation of the Public Service”. The purpose of the review is to reduce public sector costs by restructuring government ministries and agencies whose functions overlap. The project is led by chief officers Mr. Jones, Eric Bush and Dax Basdeo, along with a UK “expert”.
A report was expected to be complete this April detailing the civil service’s new organisational structure, including the addition of two new government ministries created under the 2009 Constitution Order. The rationalisation review was set to assist Governor Duncan Taylor in allocating responsibilities for the new government following the May general election.
According to the news release, “With 13 ministries and portfolios, over 70 departments and sections, 25 statutory authorities and government companies and numerous boards, committees and commissions, the idea is to amalgamate government entities to improve overall efficiency and reduce costs.
“In this case, RPCU’s current staff levels are well below what is required to meet the demands of cleaning 16 parks, 18 beaches, 26 beach accesses, 16 restrooms, 13 docks/ramps, 12 cemeteries and nine beautification areas. This equates to over 100 facilities on Grand Cayman,” the release continued.
The projected cost savings will result from Public Works’ taking on part of the finance and management work carried out by parks unit employees, “thereby allowing three RPCU employees to be transferred to other areas of government where vacancies presently exist”, according to the news release.
Additionally, the merger means the parks unit will no longer have a separate office – and utilities and other office-type costs – and will operate from the existing Public Works office and compound. Also, the merger means Public Works and the parks unit can share each other’s equipment rather than renting from the private sector – for example, the parks unit can use Public Works’ flatbed truck or Bobcat, while Public Works can use the park unit’s backhoe. Employees from the two entities will also be able to help one another.
The news release identifies parks unit assistant manager for operations Mark Bothwell as the unit’s acting general manager. The unit’s general manager, Jonathan Jackson, “is still the substantive post-holder, but has been on secondment to ministry and filling the role of an additional deputy chief officer”, Mr. Jones said. “[Mr. Bothwell] has been fulfilling the day-to-day role of GM at Parks.”