Manderson: ‘We can’t fall down on this’

Deputy governor says downsizing recommendations will happen

Civil servants were recently warned not to delay or forestall a soon-to-be released evaluation of the Cayman Islands public sector which will recommend downsizing or transferring some government services. 

The warning came from Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who is head of the civil service.  

“Our elected leaders will make decisions on what recommendations they accept,” Mr. Manderson said. “We can’t fall down on this. So many times people have made recommendations and they just sit on the shelves.”  

The consultant study by “big four” accounting firm Ernst & Young, will consider the government service as a whole, including statutory authorities and government-owned companies that are typically governed separately from the central civil service. It will look at privatizing certain government agencies and making others redundant either by combining their services with other departments or eliminating them entirely.  

Mr. Manderson said his office expects to receive a copy of the report this week.  

Following receipt, the deputy governor said there would be some “back and forth” between top civil service managers and Ernst & Young accountants who worked on the evaluation. The report will be presented to Cabinet for final review and decisions on which steps would be taken to restructure the government service.  

Only the recommendations agreed by Cabinet would be implemented. During a June 30 chief officers meeting, Mr. Manderson emphasized the “need for speed” regarding any recommendations that can be implemented quickly.  

The deputy governor is considering appointing a small unit in the civil service to oversee implementation of the agreed recommendations.  

Mr. Manderson expects there will be short-term implementation of some recommendations, medium-term changes that would take six to 18 months, as well as longer-term changes. In any case, all of the changes recommended in the EY report would not be completed in the 2014/15 government budget cycle, but Mr. Manderson said he wished to make clear that the head of the civil service is serious about implementing recommendations.  

The EY review also has support from the elected arm of government, Mr. Manderson said. “This review encompasses the entire public sector, and the key decision-makers are different,” he said in June. “This joined up approach includes, for the first time, an elected member as part of the steering committee [directing the review].”  

George Town MLA Winston Connolly was chosen as part of the team charged with implementing the civil service review recommendations.  

Also, unlike other civil service reviews, such as the Miller-Shaw consultancy report of 2010, Mr. Manderson said the government’s consultants in this case would not only make recommendations but provide a “road map” for implementation.  

Mr. Manderson said following review by Cabinet and approval of recommendations, the final EY report should be released to the public, possibly by mid- to late August.  

Since 2001, the overall government service has grown from about 4,000 employees to close to 6,000, including those employed by statutory authorities and government-owned companies that have been separated from the daily operations of central government. In the past two years, those staff increases have leveled off, but no major reductions have occurred.  

The Portfolio of the Civil Service, which manages government human resources, has reported that the Cayman Islands now has more than 80 core government entities and 25 separate authorities and government-owned companies. That does not include various boards, commissions and committees appointed by government – which, at last count, a Cayman Compass review numbered at 115.  

The accounting firm will identify functions that would better be carried out with private sector involvement, including suggestions about where public-private partnerships might work better than the public sector going it alone, and instances where selling off government assets might be preferred.  

1 COMMENT

  1. Any significant downsizing or privatization will be the end of the PPM/Progressive government.

    This does not mean that the government should not go ahead with the implementation of the recommendations from EY; but it is important that the government understand that there is sometimes a cost associated with doing the right thing and they need to be prepared to pay the price for the decisions that they are about to make.

  2. Any significant downsizing or privatization will be the end of any administration whoever happens to be in the drivers seat at the time. This is why it will never really happen, unless someone forces their hand they will keep delaying it until after the next election, passing the buck to the next group of leaders if it’s not them.

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