Last week I raised a number of concerns on the restructured Christchurch City Council executive team. Alongside my concerns I printed the views of a person well versed in setting up public structures.
A reminder here is the new structure for the CEO and Executive team at CCC.
I still have a number of concerns.
Last week I raised the matter of a job being advertised at CCC which required certain qualifications, i.e., Chartered Accountancy. Somebody was appointed without these qualifications. Then a new position was created of “CFO” and an appointment was made without this new position being advertised. I am not sure about the HR ramifications of this action.
My other observation was that there is not, for the first time, an engineer in the executive team at CCC.
The Star picked the story up, in an article published on Thursday. https://www.odt.co.nz/star-news/star-christchurch/former-mayor-garry-moore-slams-christchurch-city-council-restructure.
To my comment that the first Chartered Engineer that we would find at CCC was at Level 4 in the organisation Dawn Baxendale, CEO of CCC, replied:
We have a staff member with a New Zealand Certificate in Engineering at tier 3 of the organisation. We also have employees known as construction professionals.”
She said nine engineers have resigned from the city council in the last six months, but three of these were fixed term positions.
She said in this time period, 16 new engineers have been hired – 14 permanently and two temporarily.
This did not answer the question I raised. I repeat my original observation that the first place we can locate a Chartered Engineer at CCC is at Level 4, and below. I did not raise the number of engineers who reside within the CCC domain. Talking about the number of engineers who have been hired is a complete distraction; as is the matter of “construction professionals”.
The role of a person with a New Zealand Certificate in Engineering is defined as:
The New Zealand Certificate in Engineering was introduced to provide a recognised qualification for technicians — that group which “can apply in a reasonable manner proven techniques which are commonly understood by those who are expert in a branch of engineering, or those techniques specially prescribed by professional engineers”. Moreover, in carrying out many of their duties, the technician will work under the competent supervision of skilled professional engineers.
This definition validates my initial concern that there is no Chartered Engineer in the executive team, bound by the ethics of the Institute of Chartered Engineers. It’s worth noting that the newly appointed General Manager who will be supervising the engineering services at CCC, is a planner.
Another issue which I raised last week was that the position of “GM Resources” has alongside it in the published document “/CFO”. That means that anybody who did not have Chartered Accountancy qualifications would not have felt that they could apply for the job.
Dawn Baxendale responded in the Star article:
“it is true McConway does not hold chartered accounting qualifications.”
“…. Mr McConway was the strongest candidate and has the experience to manage this complex role having been in a similar role in Ecan,” she said.
“Leah Scales was appointed to a tier 3 role which includes CFO responsibilities, and Miles McConway to the role of general manager resources, following a national recruitment process which canvassed the skill sets required for both.”
This is essentially, in my opinion, spin. This is the sort of response which causes the public, and inquisitive media, to be sceptical of what is happening in their institutions. We cannot afford our institutions to be seen in a poor light by the public.
It is unusual to advertise a job requiring certain qualifications and then appoint somebody without them, and then create another position to fill in the hole. Others may have applied for the job if they knew that there was flexibility being exercised by the appointments panel.
This job should be readvertised. The public sector has to be completely transparent with its processes, otherwise it falls into disrepute.
I am passionate about Local Government. It is currently under siege. Everywhere. Some of the criticism is warranted; some of it is totally unfair. Too often the criticism is driven by MP’s or lobby groups who see Local Government organisations as fair game. MP’s often issue press releases and an under-resourced media pick them up and often unfair comments are made about LG which fuels public scepticism of both Central and Local Government.
In conclusion I feel that when an appointment process is, in my opinion, changed on the way through it gives the critics of Local Government fodder for their critical views. I am sorry that this has happened and I am not impressed with the attempt to “spin” the response when the flaws were pointed out.
A final note:
I recently replied to an advertisement to chair the Greater Christchurch 2050 process. I had heard that the job was going to be awarded to the person who ended up with it. I applied to test out the system. I didn’t get it. Nor did I expect to. I am sure that the appointee will undertake the task with great diligence. He is a good man. I wish Jim Palmer well. It’s essential that we all continue to participate to ensure Greater Christchurch 2050 process is a huge success.
By applying for the position, I wanted to check out the system which I was involved in for so many years. I don’t feel bad about the appointment at all. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was comforting to find that my sources of information were accurate. If I had been appointed it would have constrained my ability to comment openly on CCC, and the other agencies around Christchurch. I would have been accused as having a conflict of interest quite quickly by the agencies if I had written anything critical of any of the participants. I now no longer have those constraints.
The exercise was a useful audit of processes from my perspective.