Woodley highlights initiatives on Statia

From left:  Gislène Hassell, David Hoogenbergen (AFAS), Riana Bennett, Gabriel Pourier (AFAS), Reina Lijfrock, Enrique Vasquez, Francisca Gibbs and Nellus Rivers

ST. EUSTATIUS–A number of initiatives have been started on St. Eustatius from within the Directorate of Public Affairs and Support (DPO), which include the departments of personnel affairs, finance and ICT, in close cooperation with AFAS Software, ICT consultant Enrique Vasquez, and others.

  The initiatives are the follow-up to recent meetings in Curaçao held by Commissioner Charles A. Woodley’s delegation with AFAS, Versant Resource Centre, the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT, the firm of KPMG, and Vasquez. The meetings are aimed at improving the functioning and structure of the Government by addressing the issues outlined in the Plan van Aanpak (PvA).

  During the working sessions involving the departments and AFAS consultants, the possibilities of the system and training needs were discussed. It became apparent that the system is currently not used at its full potential, Woodley explained. A project team consisting of employees of different departments will guide the full implementation of the system across the entire organization.

  Beside the finance and personnel departments, the harbour, airport, licensing department, archives, central purchasing, internal affairs and the Executive and Island Councils will also be included in the workshop.

  Individual authorized users can also access the system’s web-interface by downloading and using an app. Activating these functionalities will allow the entire organization to work more efficiently and environmentally friendly, and be more in control.

  A system has been set up to digitalize all government documentation, in preparation for the implementation of a document management system. Eventually, all government documentation will be stored in AFAS, which will prevent information from getting lost or hard to retrieve. It will also make the stored information more secure.

  Temporary workers have been hired to assist with the process, which will take considerable time to complete, Woodley added.

  Proposals for setting up a comprehensive training development programme are being reviewed. The objective of having such a programme for the entire government apparatus is to move from fragmented ad-hoc courses here and there without an overall overview, to being able to tailor the training and development needs to fit the staff and organization.

  By doing so, Woodley said government will always have a complete overview of the expertise within the organization, and how it can be utilized most effectively.

  For a number of years, different pension-related issues have been left unresolved, despite different attempts to do so. This situation, Woodley said, has caused much unrest amongst working and retired civil servants. It has also created uncertainty for Government about current and future budgetary obligations and potential liabilities, with all its consequences for the budgeting and financial reporting processes paring the annual accounts. In order to address these issues in a structural manner, Woodley said a meeting with all stakeholders, including the CFT, KPMG, and PCN, will be held today on Statia. All stakeholders will be able to jointly discuss all pending issues and set up a clear and detailed plan with timeline to have them resolved.

  Based on observations and feedback received from within the organization, Woodley voiced that it has become clear that a number of structural deficiencies in the governmental structure need to be addressed urgently. The organization as it is currently formalized on paper does not match the actual situation, he said.

  Over the years, many departments and civil servants have not been outfitted with the tools and resources needed to fulfil their tasks, including training and development, he added.

  “Certain people were not officially placed in their rightful position and this has had negative effects on the organization in its entirety,” he pronounced.

  In order to make fresh start the working environment and conditions of the civil servants will be improved, they also will be better informed about processes and procedures, and consulted more about the running of the organization and coming up with suggestions when and where possible, he said. The entire process will take a while, he said, but it is important that a start was made.

  An important function which has been lacking for years is that of internal control, Woodley said.

  Recently, he said that an internal controller has been appointed, who will draft administrative organization and internal control guidelines for the entire organization. Based on this, a work plan will be created including a number of priority areas that need to be addressed. This includes periodic controls of departments that handle cash transactions.

  A comprehensive reporting structure, he explained will be put in place in AFAS, so that management, including the Executive and Island Councils will be able to manage the available budgets in accordance with the legislation.

  The management of sickness control for government workers will be reviewed, Woodley said, to improve the services for employees, increase their productivity, and reduce the sickness rate. This also should lead to a better working environment for the civil servants, he said.

  The common success factor, he said, for all these initiatives is a well-functioning and monitored ICT structure.

  Vasquez, together with the current network administrator will be working on setting up that structure during the coming months, Woodley added.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/67821-woodley-highlights-initiatives-on-statia