Messy management - Several state entities operating with acting heads
A number of state entities have been operating without permanent appointments in several senior positions in what has been described by president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Howard Mitchell as "contemptuous of the principles of good governance".
Responding to questions from The Sunday Gleaner, Mitchell said that the issue is one the PSOJ has taken note of, and the practice should be addressed immediately.
"That's inefficiency. It doesn't make for good planning, it doesn't make for secure confident management, and it certainly can't be good for morale.
"We find it to be contemptuous of the principles of good governance, and we would call on the Government and the ministers involved to rectify these situations immediately," said Mitchell.
The PSOJ head argued that in every successful business, there is succession planning, which allows it to run efficiently, and government entities should be no different.
"You have a number of strikes against that kind of behaviour. One, you don't have anybody in the position, and it means that there's a lack of leadership. Two, if you have somebody in the position who is acting for these long periods of time, that person can't be confident," argued Mitchell.
COULD NOT BE GOOD
President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association O'Neil Grant agrees with Mitchell that the acting appointments were messy and could not be good for any organisation.
According to Grant, the unions negotiated with the Government that no individual should be in an acting position for an extended time, and if the individual was, the person should be assessed with a view to the person filling the position.
"They are actually breaching the Public Service Regulations and the Staff Orders by having the extended acting without justification because in order for the acting to go beyond six months, they must justify why it is they are recommending that the person continue to act.
"In the fifth month of employment, the individual is supposed to be assessed, so that by the sixth month, they should be appointed," Grant told The Sunday Gleaner.
He argued that the persons who are in acting positions are in a precarious state as they are in a situation where there is no agreement for their employment except the verbal one that was given.
Among the entities that have been operating for some time with persons acting in senior posts are the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), and the already reported Jamaica Fire Brigade.
The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service operated with Darlene Morrison acting as the financial secretary for 14 months, but late last week, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke tweeted that she had been appointed to the post.
According to the Staff Orders for the Public Service, if the post is vacant and the candidate has met all the requirements of the position, any temporary appointment should not normally exceed six months, while acting appointments should be for a specified period.
But at the JCDC, the executive director position has been vacant for the past 18 months, with Orville Hill serving as interim executive director.
Hill told The Sunday Gleaner that the position was made vacant by the sudden passing of the former executive director, Dr Delroy Gordon, and a permanent appointment was yet to be made.
The JCDC is also short of a director of finance. That post has been vacant for just over a year.
SERHA and WRHA are in a similar situation as the CEO position for the Kingston Public Hospital and the Victoria Jubilee Hospital has been vacant since Errol Green was assigned to act as the regional director for the Western Regional Health Authority in April.
Staff Orders for the Public Service
1.4.1 Temporary Appointment
In instances where the appointment is to a position which is on the Public Service Establishment, is clearly vacant, and the candidate has met all the requirements of the position, the temporary appointment should not normally exceed six months.
1.9.2 Acting Appointments
i) An acting assignment is an appointment for a specified period wherein an individual in one position is required to perform the duties of another position at a higher level.
ii) An acting appointment does not confer an automatic right of permanent appointment to the position.
iii) Opportunities for acting assignments should be managed in such a manner that they do not result in an unfair advantage to anyone in any subsequent competitive process.