As set out at the start of the administration, Ministers are now required to produce and publish departmental plans for the public and bring them to Tynwald for debate.
The Cabinet Office Departmental Plan has been published and will go before Tynwald today (Tuesday).
Given the shift of emphasis at the start of this administration, it is unsurprising that since appointment, I have been keen to assess what needs to develop in the Cabinet Office – and what needs to change.
Departmental plans provide a chance not only to set out your stall and intent at a political level, but to clarify the functions and responsibilities in departments.
This includes highlighting any reforms or improvements achieved or forthcoming, in terms of how improvement of government delivery, productivity, effectiveness and value for the public is being accomplished.
These aspects are arguably now even more important than ever.
Future plans and reforms outlined in the Cabinet Office plan include a focus for improved handling of major opportunities and strategic matters, by way of a single point of contact in the centre of government, to provide some co-ordination and facilitation on early stage key strategic matters, instead of sending people around the houses to multiple individual departments.
A proposal for a Government Reform Bill is included for consideration, to put the Isle of Man Government on a statutory basis, and address identified bureaucracy and red-tape and more.
Plans for improved government service delivery and efficiency are included through a programme for digitalisation. Resulting changes will develop services to a level that better meets public expectations, is easier for business to deal with, and reduces the same process being handled multiple times, which will reduce service delivery costs.
It will include an overhaul of gov.im.
As well as being the machine of government, there is an argument that Cabinet Office is the heart of government, especially with a refreshed approach.
The department has led and co-ordinated the Island’s response to Ukraine. It has co-ordinated and delivered aspects to the cost of kiving response – things like “Community Warm Spaces” and the Isle of Man Help For Households website, guides and advice line – as well as making a range of government and service numbers free to call.
This is stuff that you can see actively promoted out in the community to try and help people and make a difference.
There is also a commitment to review changes to charities legislation.
These things matter to people who generously contribute in charities and community groups.
The plan sets out the Cabinet Office’s objectives for the coming 12 months along with a broader roadmap for the next four years. The work of the Cabinet Office will continue to support the vison and focus in the Island Plan.
We have already put in place significant public service reform in reviewing the role of the chief secretary and establishing better arrangements for accountability and oversight of delivery and to rationalise the structure of the public service.
There is also work underway to improve public service culture.
In January, Tynwald approved the statutory change in relation to the very top of the civil service, changing the role of “chief secretary” to “chief executive officer (Isle of Man Government)” with departmental chief executive officers becoming chief officers, accountable to the top.
It is one of those changes which is significant, (though small in legislative terms) but attracted very little attention at the time. However, moving forward from a system and roles established in the 1980s, can only be a good thing.
Just because something was acceptable in the 80s, doesn’t mean it is now.