CS mindset slow to change

| 23/03/2011

(CNS): The entire mindset of the civil service is having to change to accommodate the Public Management and Finance Law but it is a slow process and the Cayman Islands will have to be patient, according to speakers at the UCCI’s conference last week on Leadership, Governance and Empowerment in the Caribbean. The shift from cash-based to accruals-based accounting and the need for civil servants to actually show the goods and services that they are receiving for their money has required a completely new culture of thinking, Kurt Tibbetts, the former leader of government business and opposition member for George Town, said during a presentation on the PMFL

“Under the old system there was no incentive for civil servants to save,” he said. “They simply used up their allocation before the end of the fiscal year, whether the expenditure was necessary or not.

“Deficient budgets were a common affair. Bills lay hidden in drawers only to reappear months later and the expenditure was rubber stamped by Finance Committee after the event,” he added.

Tibbetts said many of those in government at the time were crying out for change, hence the arrival of the Public Management and Finance Law (2005), which has been subsequently amended, most recently in 2010. However, the key to the success of this law was in its operation and while the Public Management and Finance Law was enacted, sister legislation that would speak to the administration of the law was not.

“The lag time between these two pieces of law has caused many functions of the system to be disjointed,” Tibbetts said. “The human resources side needed to be prepared and understood. This was very important, but it fell by the wayside.”

Tibbetts also said that he had wanted performance-based remuneration to be installed in the civil service at the time the legislation was put in place. “We have not reached a stage whereby civil servants’ remuneration is performance-based and the original concept for this has been watered down in the law,” he noted.

The idea of performance-based rewards had excited Tibbetts because he said it would have produced a competitive spirit among peers and colleagues. “It wasn’t about not paying people. You wouldn’t want them to outshine you!” he said. He went on to say that this new performance-based system was not just about pay but about attitude in the job place as well.

“We wanted the attitude to change. It would not be good enough to say: ’I’m a civil servant and I just need to turn up for work and do no more than necessary to keep my job’,” he said.
Decentralising the human resources side of the civil service was another important move to keep in check what Tibbetts described as “the alarming growth of personnel in the civil service”.

He talked of the new paradigm shift which no longer tolerated simply hiring an individual for a specific task when there was already sufficient personnel to deal with the task. I’m satisfied that has, or is, changing now and has done so for some time,” he confirmed.

The explosion in numbers of the civil service has caused what Tibbetts termed “a very serious problem”, especially with operating expenditure by government taking up such a large proportion of its overall budget, at around 50 per cent. “It’s difficult to fire people,” he said. “I applaud the deputy governor for his efforts that are taking place now.”

Tibbetts ended his session by saying that it was not allbad and anything was better than the old system of accounting.

“I think it may have been a bit over ambitious to introduce the entire law comprehensively and it should have maybe been introduced in phases,” he conceded. “The success of the system depends on those who work in it and the downturn in the economy has certainly been an eye opener for us all. Everyone is now interested in spending only what they have to.”

Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks said he was convinced that Cayman was now on the right track but did not feel the civil service was as far along as it ought to be in properly adopting the Public Management and Finance Law.

“We did not strike the right balance between aspirations and resources,” he explained. “It’s not just about the number of bodies we have; it’s about monitoring the mechanics of the system and IT capabilities.”

Ebanks said that there was currently an environment of a willingness within the civil service to look at the progress so far and there have been recent meetings to address issues with the law.

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  1. Shock and Awe says:

    "They used to spend money like drunken sailors.  That wasn’t acceptable. With these new improvements, now they spend money like drunken bureaucrats."

  2. Non-Financial Person says:

    Didn’t we read recently on this excellentwebsite that the Government only employes a small percentage of expats? Not every problem needs to be made into an Immigration problem!

    I think that this PMFL was doomed as it was implemented right after Ivan when so many records were lost. Then instead of moving forward with the new system, the politicians beat the finance folks to death asking for 2005 accounts.

    It’s time for the politicians and their partisan approach to governing and administration, to be reviewed.

  3. FED UP says:

    This guy is a nice, honest XXXX that has no place in politics. It was good that he understands it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    These people are guilty of serious misconduct for god’s sake! Why is it acceptable for the change to be so slow?

    If my employer found out I’d been doing these sorts of things change would be expected instantaneously if I got to keep my job at all.

    Someone needs to go to these offices, get on a desk with a megaphoneand tell these people to get on with their jobs or get out.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I dont know if its a typo or not, but the reported comment that suggests the decentralization of HR authority was to curb the astonishing increase in the numbers of civil servants, couldn’t be further from the truth.

    The new financial reforms and the decentralization of HR was in fact the major cause of the dramatic rise in numbers of civil servants.

    This is easy to verify. just look at the number of public service employees over the years of the reforms.

  6. Libertarian says:

    ***** Private businesses or companies are better at running individuals things. They do it for profit and if it doesn’t run well they can downsize and make theirown administrative decisions. Nationalization is when government takes over pretty much of all the major businesses and resources on the island. This requires a complex accounting system of its operations, laws like PMFL, and a hugh beauracracy of well paid individuals that rely on increasing fees and indirect taxes upon the small private sector in order to stay afloat against the market conditions. God forbid that Cayman becomes completely sold out to a government that appears to be allies with a few private individuals who want a control of the countries wealth; or sold out completely to government! To avoid this from happening, we need a government that is small and respect the liberties and free market of the people! Privatization is where a government sells off businesses or natural resources to private entities, which are more goal oriented than a complex government system. Under privatization things are done alot faster, efficient, and cheaper when there is competition. The government becomes smaller, easily manageable, and is held more accountable for any increases on fees and indirect taxes. Government should had downsize its services, keeping the essential ones (like those dealing with law enforcement / court) from long time ago! But I think the party leaders were more concerned about protecting their own political interests and votes in upcoming elections than what was needed for the whole country. Time will tell on whether they realize they need to responsibly deal with what they can handle or go down the road towards nationalizing the entire Cayman Islands! ***** Libertarian

    • Nigel says:

      “But I think the party leaders were more concerned about protecting their own political interests and votes in upcoming elections than what was needed for the whole country.” Libertarian could you write without stepping on the UDP and PPM toes and their leadership? Government does not need to reduce its size!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Let us also not forget that the other principal architect of the PMFL was George McCarthy of Interbank fame, when he was Financial Secretary. Talk about a square peg in a round hole!!! And now McDredge has him as head of CIMA. No wonder that our ratings internationally are dropping!!!

    Unfortunately this slide will not stop until every remnant of the McGamble Government is removed from the face of Government.

  8. Your No#1 supporter says:

    Yes Leader of the PPM and who add 600 more “gowerment” employees and created and install some of the most sinister and mindless elements in todays civil service. You and the present leader are both guilty of nepotism and cronyism. The new leadership in both Gangs! oops party look to follow in this old and time honoured tradition. Thats why it will get no better for us the poor people who keep electing you all. Sadly the UK allows this because it works out great for them.

  9. Kurgan says:

    A large proportion of the Civil Service is a social security network for Caymanians.  Unfortunately [their] power is too big for even Mac to force any much needed changes into the system.  So be prepared for precarious budgets, soaring health care and pension liabilities and ultimately the inevitable direct taxation.

    • Anonymous says:

      “A large proportion of the Civil Service is a social security network for Caymanians. Unfortunately [their] power is too big for even Mac to force any much needed changes into the system. So be prepared for precarious budgets, soaring health care and pension liabilities and ultimately the inevitable direct taxation.”

      Oh, please, if CS is controlling Mac how come they had to take a pay cut? No CS agreed to take a pay cut.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The Public Management Finance Law gives rise to a flawed system.  Civil Servants I speak to say they spend so much time each day trying to figure out how much to charge for what they do, following up trying to get ‘payment’ for things they bill other departments for and trying to verify that things they are charged for by other departments are correct that they have little time left for actual ‘work’


  11. Anonymous says:

     What is wrong with the civil service?  Their are too many people who were employed in the private sector, who jumped ship when their permits ended and are now new civil servants employed by the CI Government.  The reason being, they do not need a work permit and as long as they are allowed to stay in the job that is a step towards residency/status.

    The students returning from universities are sidelined and put on hold, while the positions are filled by  ex-permit holders.  I know of caymanians who were interviewed for a job, they were told that they would be notified by letter and those letters were never written nor were they contacted.  The people who are fortunate to get the jobs, make sure when there are vacancies, they do whatever it takes to fill them  with their friends, so the locals don’t have a chance in hell to get them.

    HR in the departments only increased government’s  expenditure and created more corrupt employees.   It would be interesting to have some of the records checked for leave/sick leave, and blatant absences.  

    • Locals second choice says:

       I agree.  As an expat married to a Caymanian, neither me nor my husband would ever have a chance in the Civil Service since it is filled with nepotism, cronyism, and ex permit holders.

      I’d like to see the SAME Immigration rules apply to civil service as the public sector….a job MUST be advertised if not held by a Caymanian.  Too many of these "contracts" just roll year after year without giving a chance to Caymanians who qualify.  Skilled positions like HR, IT, Engineering, Medical, all flow back into the civil service without checking to see if a Caymanian is qualified and unemployed.

      Too many unemployed skilled Caymanians now to allow the civil service it’s bloated old ways.  I’d LOVE to see anyone FIRED who actually uses all 10 sick days, shame on you…they are NOT holidays!


      • Anonymous says:

        “FIRED who actually uses all 10 sick days, shame on you”
        The labour law intitles you to 10 sick days no matter where you work. Now there are some that take way over that but believe me, it all depends on who you are. I had 4 days one year and they came down on me but one of my co-workers had over a 100 days and nothing was said about that person.

        • Anonymous says:

          When I was in the UK civil service people who failed to take all 10 of their sick days (we called the USLs – uncertified sick leave – or hangover days) had an interview with the Welfare Officer because it was felt they were working too hard.

          Staff at my old department used to take a mid-morning or mid-afternoon break to go shopping, leave early to pick kids up from school while still clocked in on flexi-time and use the phones for private calls – all sackable offences – without anyone doing anything.

          Don’t knock the CI civil service because, apart from the Caymanian/ex-Pat issue, they aren’t doing anything that public servants throughout the world aren’t getting away with every working day.

      • Anonymous says:

        As an ex-pat in Government, who has never been on a work permit, I can say that I was successful in getting my job based on the fact that my qualifications and experience were better than any other applicant’s.

        I would also like to say that I live from 2 year contract to 2 year contract, with the certain knowledge that I have to reapply and interview for my own job, and the certain knowledge that despite the fact that I may be the best qualified for my own job, it will only take a Caymanian who knows someone to put me out of a job, whether or not they themselves are qualified or have the depth of experience that I have. And no sucking of teeth please, it happens all the time.

        So many people are happy to denigrate the civil service and I don’t deny that there are problems, but until our beloved leaders can sort out their problems and give us clear guidance and the teeth to actually be able to get rid of some of our problems, things will never change.

        And that, my friends, is the ugly truth

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you know the HR in some govt dept are here them self on work permit tell me which other country do this.

  12. slowpoke says:

    The current PMFL is dead anyway… Let us see what the UK wants – which will happen soon. 

  13. The Beaver says:

    Things to ponder…

    1.  Why is it that no matter who is in charge, one holds little faith in their ability to govern properly?

    2.  Why is it that the more that government speaks of accountability, the less likely it is to be implemented?

    3.  Why is it that one ought to be just as scared of those in government as those who continuously brag about their close relationship with Jesus Christ?

    The Beaver

  14. Anonymous says:

    Accrual accounting?

    Ahhhhhhh! And here I thought all along that it was cruel accounting.

    • Anonymous says:

      This man is still asleep.  No wonder the civil service helped to vote him out if that is what he thinks of them – hiding bills in drawers etc. Sounds like he thinks his PMFL slowed down the growth of the service, where is he living? He needs to wake up and admit he cost this country billions of losses.

  15. Libertarian says:

    ***** CNS: “The explosion in numbers of the civil service has caused what Tibbetts termed ‘a very serious problem’, especially with operating expenditure by government taking up such a large proportion of its overall budget, at around 50 per cent.’It’s difficult to fire people,’ he said. ‘I applaud the Deputy Governor for his efforts that are taking place now.'” This seems to be a major concern. Why not privatize certain sectors of government to reduce operating expenditures and yet keep them employed? At least the PMFL will work with a smaller effective government than the bloated and jumbled accounts it has now to deal with. ***** Libertarian

    • Anonymous says:

      Lib, they should have did that long time ago. Now Kurt is complaining when it was under his tenure that the PMFL was introduced

  16. Anonymous says:

    What a pile of baloney.

    Why has it not worked then in New Zealand where we borrowed the idea, and who abandoned it?

    Besides it was never implemented properly and everyone who uses it has a different opinion on how it should work.

    Plain and simple it is a failure, because of a flawed plan. We do not need such a complicated system for such a small place.

    • Anonymous says:

      Could you please provide proof they abandoned it? Or are you just quoting what has been said before (erroneously) on this site by people who never wanted change in the first place – the “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” people? Thanks, I await your posting of material to support your assertion.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Kurt must have amnesia.  Most of what he’s now complaining about occurred on his watch in the previous government.

    Mind you, I’m no fan of McKeeva either.  But you get what oonu vote for.

    • Anonymous says:

      The CS is too big for two reasons one because of over employed portions of Government and two because we ask Government to do too many different things.

      The Government departments spent the better part of the last year continually cutting off excess personnel and budget. What is now needed is to remove portions of Government to the Private sector. Selling portions like the water company will be interesting is that entity brings much needed funds in for Government. We see Government having a number of agencies that really dont make money and so they must be funded from other Government resources.