08 January, 2007

Anguilla Public Service No 4

PS Department of Social Development

We have been looking at a rising problem in the Anguilla public service. The question on everyone’s mind is, are the recent appointments to the vacant posts of Permanent Secretary being handled properly? Since the PS of a Department functions much like a company’s CEO, such an appointment is of crucial importance.

The most recent PS position to become vacant was that of the Department of Social Development. It had been headed for some years by Orris Proctor. On his resignation, it fell to the Governor to fill the position. And, when I say the Governor you can read the Deputy Governor. For several years the Governor has delegated the management of the public service to the Deputy Governor. In matters of the public service, the Governor acts through the Deputy Governor. Under our Constitution, the appointment of a Permanent Secretary is within the sole and unfettered discretion of the Governor. He is not required to consult with the Public Service Commission. He is required to consult with the Chief Minister. He does not have to take the advice of the Chief Minister or any other Minister when appointing a PS. But, he does have to consult. If he is wise and if he wants to ensure good working relations between the Minister and his Permanent Secretary, he will pay serious attention to the advice and counsel of the Minister before making the appointment. He certainly does not have to consult with our Public Service Commission.

The Governor appointed the Social Development Planner, Dr Bonnie Richardson-Lake, to fill the position of PS in the Department of Social Development. Dr Richardson-Lake is a highly qualified person. No one has suggested to me that she did anything wrong. She has acted throughout with complete propriety. The question is, did the Governor act properly in the way in which he filled the appointment?

There were said to have been nine applicants to fill the vacant post of PS Health. Several of them were just as qualified, if not more so. They complain that none of them was placed on a short-list. None of them was invited to an interview to assist in assessing their level of interest and commitment. None of them has received any explanation why they were not considered for the position.

The appointment has raised questions throughout the Anguilla public service. An already demoralized and disgruntled service, is now at its wits end. From their perspective, persons new to the public service and not as qualified in public administration as others are, are being promoted without any due process or transparency. They say things like that Stanley has become a law unto himself. That he is putting in place persons he has a soft spot for. They are convinced that it is no longer a matter of qualification. It is a matter of who you know, and who favours whom. They tell me they are becoming disenchanted. This one says he resigned and left the public service because of the way his application for promotion was handled. The other one says he is about to resign for the same reason. That is a sad outcome from the appointment of our very own Stanley to fill the post of Deputy Governor. I am sure that whatever decisions he took were, in his view, clearly in the public interest. The trouble, as always, is with the public perception. We can only hope that with future promotions and appointments, he will strive harder than he has up to now to demonstrate the fairness and transparency of his conduct in making appointments to the most senior positions in the public service. It is not a matter of who has the power. The question is how it is used.


  1. When the entire government is surrounded by secrecy, the people feel excluded from their instruments of government. In such a climate, we should not wonder why every act of government is looked upon with suspicion and attributed to ulterior motives.

    Justice Mitchell has suggested ways to make government more open and accountable. I wish we had even one elected representative who shows this kind of leadership.

    In the 1970s leadership was getting foreigners to build more projects in Anguilla. This has changed, but our leaders have not.

  2. Well, Well Well, I am shocked by the appointment. However, I'm very excited that Anguilla now realize the benefits of education. I believe this lady will do a great job. Hopefully, she can also use her expertise to work on policy. The problem facing many civil servants is that they do not speak out on issues. Or even try to join committees or organisations. The GOvernor has no idea of their managment style or views. We want to sit down in an office take 2 hour lunches and wait for our job entillement.

    As for transparency, lets see the names of the applicants who all applied for this position. I bet many of them would not want their names made known to the public. But they will complain behind shut and open doors. Let me stop, I've become too cynical.

    Anyway, it is good to see the Deputy Governor making decisions base on competence and not age, familiarity or experience alone.

  3. The time has come for all upper level positions in the public service to be termed/contracted positions. For example every 5 or 10 years persons should have to re apply for the same position.

    I'm not sure if this attitude that all civil servants have a job until retirement is serving us well anymore. We must address changing trends job hiring and look at what's best for the service.

    I agree with a more open process of job appointments. Or certainly a better media public relations.

  4. The deputy governor is the kind of leadership Anguilla lacks since the breakdown of morals, decency and transparency of 1967 – which I usually called an uprising blown out of proportion for lack of proper media coverage; which benefits a few; and eventually, totally lost its’ vision.

    But that’s another debate, which must be addressed.

    Stanley Reid must be commended as a rare scrupulous kind Anguillian; minute - if any remained, that not even his father can be accredited. His strategic positioning is not simply ‘novus actus interveniens’, but rather a definite placement/calling by a higher being, in the Anguilla’s diaspora - this is where merit replaces favour (itism).

    Now, we truly have the kind of decent, just, and transparent leadership; while making the decisions he reflects. Mr. Reid should be mostly commended for having the fortitude in making the kind of tough decisions, others refused, for the best interest for the Anguilla Public Service and Anguilla by extension.

  5. Sorry but you all have missed the point made by Don. Its the way it has been done. Support for such apparently unfair practices under the guise of supporting a strong leader is undemocratic and corruptive in itself. No doubt the incumbants to all three posts are possessing of good qualities and an education, and a noted level of youth (with its attendent impetuosity). One was a junior lawyer, another an IT specialist, looking at thier potential oposition and the methods of appointment only gives people cause for concern that all may not be well, even if it is.

  6. The Junior Lawyer was responsible for drafting legisilation and actively involve in policy making. Who else would have a better idea of the Public Adminstration policy, than the person drafting it?

    I do not support the IT specialist appointment. But Ms. Wilson is the best person for that position. Lets be transparent and get a hold of the all the applicants and make their names public. The process of appointments cannot be changed in 1 day or a month. This has been done for years. The entire process needs to be handle differently. But do not blame the Deputy Governor because he is now local for what we tolerated for years.

  7. There was nothing undemocratic about the Deputy Governor (DG) appointments of the recent Permanent Secretaries PS. He acted well within his powers under the constitution. Some of us may not like his choices but that was his decision to make. If we have a problem with transparency in his actions, I suggest we remove that power given to him under the constitution. But the last thing Anguilla needs is spending more money on boards and commissions to hire public servants. A Public Service Commission should concerns itself with matters of ethical behaviour, disciplinary actions, terminations and General Orders violations. The (PS )positions did not suddenly become vacant. We knew this was coming. Yet, we failed to have an appropriate public debate on likely candidates. A good example of government employees silence on issues of importance.

    In any open society, public officials are subject to vigorous scrutiny, but not in AXA. People are too easily offended when your opinion differs from theirs. I believe the DG chose individuals who he can work with to help realize his vision for the public service. He realizes the need for an infusion of new leadership capable of modernizing the system. People who are not just qualified but competent with new and changing technologies necessary to make the system more efficient. A smaller, more efficient, knowledgeable service with an emphasis on human capital.

    In the past, we may have appointed persons with degrees in history, maths or finance for those positions. That era has changed. Furthermore, the era of the “red light district” in high office is over. Public officials must be viewed as ethical and morally responsible. Basic values must be part of each department mission statement. And it is up to us to ensure public officials understand this new respect for public office. For too long, we lack decisive leadership. Do we really need a mini summit to appoint public servants? This is not a lack of transparency in the Governor office. This is a failure of mammoth proportions in the AXA media. Our media main objective is to entertain not informed. We need journalists who do not just report the news but investigate and encourage analysis. And we need radio station owners to have a qualified person in broadcasting attached to stations. Or answer to a broadcasting commission.

    Our democracy is a simple one. The government is accountable to the people and the Governor is accountable to the Crown. No one is preventing us from changing our political system. If we detest this over-arching power relationship given to the Governor then change it.

    Now, our focus should be on the other positions that will be coming up for new appointments. As for the PS of Education, I would like to see Lana Horsford-Harrigan appointed. She was an educator for years and she has valuable experience in administration. Dawn Reid would best serve us seeing the National Community College through in this phase of development infancy. And this is just my view, there are many more persons I could have name.


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