Senator Kristina Moore, who chairs the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, said he should be facing more Scrutiny, rather than less, as recommended in a new report.
The report into States chief executive Charlie Parker’s performance has now been released – after a delay of three months – with Chief Minister John Le Fondré praising him for his performance, saying that the Island would have been ‘less well-prepared’ to combat the Covid-19 outbreak were it not for Mr Parker’s change programme.
The executive summary of the report – carried out by change analyst John Nicholson – concluded that it may be ‘appropriate to pare back the [appraisal] exercise’ and to adopt a ‘lighter touch to performance management’.
However, Senator Moore said that as Mr Parker was the Island’s highest-ranking civil servant, he should be subject to increased scrutiny. She added that the views submitted to the review were more ‘polarised’ than the Chief Minister suggested and that there is a lack of tension between the pair making it difficult for Senator Le Fondré to hold Mr Parker properly to account.
‘There were a few things. First there was paring back the use of expert witnesses and there was having a lighter touch on performance management,’ she said.
‘My reading of things is that people are clearly quite polarised on whether targets are being achieved. We are concerned by the suggestion that there should be a lighter touch in terms of performance management when we are moving into the third year of his leadership.
‘You would expect that by the third year the change-management programme would be in its final throes. There has been the Covid crisis, which has affected things, but we should not be stepping back from performance management.’
She added that Senator Le Fondré’s recent remarks about the chief executive’s appraisal indicated to her that the pair might be too cosy with each other.
‘It is the job of the Chief Minister to hold the chief executive to account and it is our job, as the Scrutiny Panel, to hold the Chief Minister account, so that’s how it works,’ she said.
‘We have seen the Chief Minister’s recent comments and have asked him about them in Scrutiny.
‘We are concerned that there appears to be a lack of tension between the Chief Minister and the chief executive, and if that is the case then it makes it difficult for him to hold him to account properly.’
The conclusions to the appraisal say that Mr Parker has ‘consolidated his personal position and made significant further strides towards embedding the One Government approach to the Island’s governance’.
It adds: ‘It may now be appropriate to pare back the [appraisal] exercise, involving fewer “expert witnesses”, and adopting a lighter touch to performance measurement.’
During a hearing with the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel yesterday, Senator Le Fondré said that the appraisal process for the chief executive had been the most transparent he could remember in all his time in the States.
He described it as a ‘warts and all’ document but said it demonstrated an ‘impressive record of delivery’.
He added that the chief executive had done an ‘excellent job’ and said that the Island owes a debt of gratitude to him and his team for how they had adapted the government structure so that it coped as well as it had done during the pandemic.
‘I don’t believe that the previous structure of government would have coped as well as we did,’ he said.
‘We should be very, very satisfied with the performance of the chief executive.’