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Policy workshops held

1.	Director of the Cabinet Office’s Policy Coordination Unit Ralph Lewis with the Deputy Governor and some of the Chief Officers who sent staff to attend his recent policy workshops. Photo by Information Officer Lennon Christian

Senior and mid-management civil servants are bringing enhanced policy development skills to the job following a series of workshops hosted by the Cabinet Office’s Policy Coordination Unit.

Over the past financial year two hundred and forty-five civil servants from all Ministries and Portfolios attended the workshop titled Policy Development and Implementation Best Practice. Participants were trained in twenty-six sessions. The workshops’ purpose was to promote efficient policy development and effective policy implementation across Government.

The sessions marked the first Government-wide training of senior and mid-management civil servants on policy. Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service Mr. Franz Manderson comments “Policy formulation is about transforming what is desirable into tangible results. Civil Servants play a key role in developing polices for the consideration of our political leaders- it is therefore of paramount importance that Civil Servants receive high level training in this area. I therefore commend the Cabinet Secretary and his team for conducting the policy workshop”

Organized by the Cabinet Office in support of its role coordinating the development and implementation of Government-wide policy, Cabinet Secretary Mr. Samuel Rose remarked “I am pleased that the workshops were able to provide civil servants who are involved in the policy development process an opportunity to discuss and examine best practice while sharing their collective experiences. We have already begun to see returns on this investment in our people.”

“The ultimate aim of policy training is to enhance services to stakeholders and the public by properly developing policies and implementing them effectively. The Cabinet Office is committed to furthering this aim in the public interest and we believe the public will soon start to feel the benefits of this approach,” Mr Rose adds.

Training, conducted by the Director of the Policy Coordination Unit Robert Lewis, related the topic of policy development to participants’ own work within the civil service. The workshop particularly focused on factors critical to policy development which increase the chances of successful implementation.

Attendees learned that the development of national policies should include both “tangible” and “intangible” components, such as: sound research and analysis, championing, partnerships with stakeholders, target-setting, monitoring, evaluation, and triggers for policy review and change – among other matters. It was particularly stressed that for operational policies to be effective, they must be “living” documents, subject to review and change as needed.

In addition, the workshops offered tools to aid consistent policy development, such as templates for drafting Terms of Reference (TOR) and for the structure of national policies. Participant Steve Moore, Head of the Governor’s Office remarked that “it was encouraging to witness efforts at standardisation of policy work across government.”

His colleague Tom Hines added “I found the policy workshop enlightening. Policies can sometimes get left on the shelf. It was therefore useful to learn more about the essential ingredients of a good policy and what makes policies work.”

Attendees had an opportunity to convert theory into practice by assessing local documents. Reviews of the Government’s Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) and Vision 2008 among others, allowed them to gauge how well a policy was developed, and to what extent another was effectively implemented.

They also heard that while some policies were created as a reaction to crises and disasters, policy often works best when developed following a needs analysis. This can yield highly competitive and even cutting edge results if done correctly, Mr Lewis stated. An example would be a policy on emerging markets informed by tracking performance indicators such as per capita income, travel patterns, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), etc.

To encourage an atmosphere of interaction and dialogue, attendance at the half-day sessions were generally capped at 12 persons. This personalised approach enabled them to share topic-related experiences for the benefit of colleagues.

The facilitator also urged civil servants involved with policy development to enhance their effectiveness by broadening their knowledge of subjects such as good governance, working with Ministers, the legislative drafting and budget processes, contingency planning, the impacts of management style, and cost/benefit analysis – among others.

Mr Lewis brought his own rich background in policy development to his role as trainer. He holds masters’ degrees in public policy and management, as well as in urban and regional planning. The Policy Coordination Unit has advised on a number of policies being developed or in the process of being implemented. The facilitator presently chairs the National Disability Policy Steering Committee, sits on the National Statistical Coordination Committee and the National Energy Policy Committee. Prior to joining the Cabinet Office he worked as the Assistant Director with responsibility for policy development and strategic planning in the Planning Department.

Sonia McLaughlin, Chief Officer in the Ministry of Finance, which sent the most participants remarked – “Expertly presented by Mr. Robert Lewis of the Cabinet Office, this workshop is an excellent start for the professionalization of policy making in the government. I am confident that Ministry of Finance representatives will apply the principles they have learnt to their respective areas of work.”

Chief Officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs Mr. Eric Bush concurred “Proper policies and procedures are the backbone or foundation of every organization. A number of staff within the Ministry of Home Affairs have taken advantage of the training offered. Now that the foundation of policy development has been laid, I expect more in-depth reviews to be conducted within our departments and an overall improvement in this area.”

For further information contact: Suzette Ebanks