Knock-on effect: Pensions are at risk thanks in part to mounting debt and financial inefficiencies exacerbated by poor civil service leadership, says SAGE. *iStock photo
Knock-on effect: Pensions are at risk thanks in part to mounting debt and financial inefficiencies exacerbated by poor civil service leadership, says SAGE. *iStock photo

Brian Duperreault, speaking publicly for the first time about the SAGE Commission’s findings at a Bermuda Chamber of Commerce breakfast earlier this week, said restructuring the Civil Service is the most crucial recommendation from the group’s report that was released last autumn.

The SAGE (Spending and Governmental Efficiency) Commission released its report, which made a litany of recommendations to streamline and improve Bermuda’s government operations. 

Mr Duperreault was the chairman of the commission, which has been reticent to talk about its findings.

“We didn’t want to pre-empt public debate or look as if we were trying to sway opinion,” he said.

But on Monday morning, Mr Duperreault told those gathered at the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce breakfast that most missed the commission’s most crucial finding: the
island’s Civil Service was suffering from weak leadership.

Solve that problem, said Mr Duperreault “then everything that’s plaguing the Civil Service” is likely to be addressed.

Furthermore, said Mr Duperreault, the Public Service Commission (PSC) should have authority over the Civil Service. Right now, the commission has no authority over the senior executives it hires to run the Civil Service.

The Secretary to the Cabinet, which Mr Duperreault called the most senior position in government, reported to the
governor and was exempt from performance appraisals.

That position should report to the PSC, according to the SAGE recommendations, and be subject to performance appraisals.

“Otherwise, there’s no accountability at the top,” he said.

He added, “Our main recommendation was that if the leadership issue was resolved, then virtually everything that’s plaguing the Civil Service was likely to be addressed. 

“The talent and the expertise is there, but the employees need effective leadership.”

The Secretary to the Cabinet also doubles as Head of the Civil Service, said Duperreault, when they should really be two separate and equal posts.

“This is how the Civil Service was structured until 1999,” he said.

He added, “Every member of the SAGE Commission felt that with the right leadership in place, the other problems facing government would be addressed.”