05 January, 2007

Anguilla Public Service No 2

PS Public Administration.

Everyone reading these posts probably knows that I am the Chairman of the Public Service Integrity Board. As such, I work closely with several of the persons whose positions will be subject to remarks. Let me say that I have worried whether I should be the one to take up the leading of this discussion. It might be that it will be considered by some to be unseemly for the Chairman of a Public Service Board to deal with allegations of misconduct in the highest levels of the public service. I hope that I will not be perceived as letting down the side! I especially hope that readers will accept that I have no interest other than the wellbeing of the public service. What is written here is a description of concerns that members of the public and of the public service have related to me. It is nothing personal.

We are looking at a perception that there is a rising tide of discontent in the Anguilla Public Service. This tide is said to be forming around a number of recent appointments to senior positions. The earliest is that of Permanent Secretary in the Department of Public Administration. When Stanley Reid was appointed Deputy Governor in May 2006, his previous post of PS in the Department of Public Administration fell vacant. Much speculation began about whom the Governor would appoint in his place. The appointment of a Permanent Secretary in Anguilla is in the hands of the Governor. The Governor is not required to consult with the Public Service Commission for such an appointment. 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 Permanent Secretary. 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.

The post of PS Public Administration is a prestigious position. It is a powerful position. It is the office that under the Governor's Office runs the entire Anguilla public service. This is the largest single employer in Anguilla. Stanley himself had previously carried out the function of PS with undoubted integrity and had received public acclaim about it. It is also important to realise that the position of PS is the pinnacle of a public service career. Civil servants spend decades studying and working with their eyes set on one day reaching the top. They expect that their long study and preparation, not to mention their professionalism and competence, will be duly honoured and recognised by appointment to the top post of Permanent Secretary.

The vacancy was duly advertised. There were several applicants. One of the applicants was a bright young attorney in the Attorney General's office. Her name is Ms Arjul Wilson. Ms Wilson had been in the public service for several years. She had served as Crown Counsel. Several of the other applicants were more senior in the number of years they had been in the service. They had their own qualifications. The Governor in due course appointed Ms Wilson to the vacant post of PS Public Administration. You can read the story here in The Anguillian Newspaper. The older applicants are not sure they understand why Ms Wilson was selected ahead of them. There has been no explanation for the appointment of such a young person to be Permanent Secretary.

Nothing that is written here is meant to suggest that Ms Wilson did anything wrong, or that she is not capable of doing the job. The question is, did the Governor act in the best interests of the service in the way he filled the vacant position? The Anguilla public is entitled to be satisfied that the best applicant for the position would be appointed. The problem is that there are no published criteria that can be seen to have been met. There is no test that was passed. The more senior and equally well qualified applicants have no explanation why they were overlooked. There is only rumour and speculation. The rumour and speculation is all unfriendly, and most probably misguided.

The more senior applicants are left wondering whether they should consider that they have come to the end of the line so far as their hopes for further promotion are concerned. Was there some way in which their performance has not been up to the expected standard? They will never know, as such appointments are not made as a result of any recommendation by an independent body. The least that can be said is that this is no way to run a public service. Unfettered discretion will only be accepted if it is seen by those affected to be handled in the most transparent and objective manner. Is it not time for the Governor to be made to act on the basis of the advice of an independent Public Service Commission, protected by the most modern Caribbean law?


  1. Ms. Wilson is not only competent she is she qualified and capable to handle the position. Too often we, in AXA have promoted people based on years in service instead of whether they can handle the job. It's about time people in AXA civil and public service understand, job performace must be measured. Not long ago, we heard a Department Head boast about how he spent more than 60% of his budget on trees. Only in AXA, this nonsense can occur. Department Heads must understand what it means to manage a budget.

    As to whether a CHairman of the integrity Board should be moderating this website, absoultutely. WHo else would be better to regulate such a public service. Again the silent elite wants to stiffle free speech. This type of discusiion helps to educate the public. Let me say, I made a bet that you won't last 1 month with this forum because the powerful minority will shut you down.

  2. WHy is the PS of Public Adminsitration the only one in question. Was Mr. Franklin the best person for the PS of Public Works/Infrastructure. I can name 3 other Anguillian who have relevant qualifications and experience for that post.

  3. For years, Governors past and present have appointed men as Permanent Secretaries (PS). Almost to the point that P.S. became synonymous with "Production Sex" on the street. Now you have a Governor appointing someone who is productive and they want to crucify her. How many Governors in the past have ever appointed a woman as PS. SOme men have manage to turn that position into moral and ethical deacy. Let the woman show her metal and give her a chance to raise the standards of the office.

    I would suggest you remain neutral onm such topics. Instead of looking at his appointment of one PS. Lets examine the whole process of PS appointments.

  4. I amaze MR. Franlin was appointed Permanent Secretary of Public Works. This is the person who was in charge of the computer unit. Take a look at how many government departments are online. Further yet, look at the government website and tell me if you would want this person heading any department. Anguilla government website is the worse in the entire caribbean. This is unaccpetable in this age of technology. I would suggest they get someone from the BVI,Cayman islands or even Inida to help them figure what to do with it.

    This adminstration strives on secrecy and keeps civil servants ignorant of the workings of government. It is better for us to discuss corruption here and trash it out in a civilised manner than to resort to uncivilised ways and means as we see in Haiti.

  5. Dear Readers,

    I would be glad if you would save your comments on the appointment of PS Infrastructure until I come in my next post to deal with that issue.


  6. Miss Wilson was the one of the most junior of lawyers in the AG chambers. It is reported that Mr Reid carried to her an application form for this role. Irrespective as to whether she is any good at the job and with no comment to her abilities it is the appearance of what has occurred which is of concern.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.