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Recovery and Development Agency
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Senior managers have been urged to be concise in their arguments when drafting policy papers as poor policy advice and analysis lead to poor decision making.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. John S. Duncan, OBE made the charge today, at the opening of a ‘Developing Effective Policy: Analysis and Use of Evidence’ workshop organised by the Cabinet Office.
The Governor, who serves as the Chairman of Cabinet, stated that good policy papers are concise in their arguments adding that managers will not be judged on the length of what they write but by the conciseness of their arguments.
His Excellency said good policy advice is grounded in well-structured arguments. He said, “Sadly the word processor and e-mail have allowed people to ignore the skill of being concise. Instead of identifying the core problem, all too often, they start by discussing the context and in the worst case; we end up with a stream of consciousness.”
His Excellency said training for public service officers involved in policy work is essential. He outlined that the responsibility of senior managers in this process is to allocate sensible deadlines to allow staff time to prepare the work; send work back that is incomplete or inaccurate; delegate properly, exercise quality control; and avoid allowing work to creep up the decision and management chain.
The Governor said the workshop signalled the beginning of steps to improve the policy writing process.
“We must renew our efforts to improve the quality of policy advice. Our staff needs the skills to allow them to focus on the essentials to apply the core logic that underpins all problem solving,” he said.
His Excellency also applauded the Cabinet Office and Cabinet Secretary, Ms. Sandra Ward for the initiative which is a core part of the public sector reform.
The workshop’s facilitator from the Royal Institute of Public Administration, Dr. Phillip Davies in his remarks stated, “We have to find ways of making the evidence relevant, accessible, informative, comprehensible, and that’s what we are going to look at this week. How do we get on top of this exciting revolution, which if we don’t get it organised, will frankly swamp us because it really is quite extensive.”
Premier of the Virgin Islands, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE also delivered remarks. He said from an individual or a country-wide perspective, decisions must be made continually and that more evidence, thought and analysis are needed before coming to a decision.
The Premier said he supports the five day workshop which will enable better policy decision and good governance as correct information is needed to lead the country in the right direction. The ceremony was chaired by Cabinet Secretary, Ms. Sandra Ward. Other members of the Cabinet including Deputy Premier, Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering and Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton were in attendance.
The Developing Effective Policy: Analysis and Use of Evidence workshop is the first in a series of training sessions to be organised by the Cabinet Office that will focus on various aspects of policy development. It is part of Government’s commitment to enhance the policy capacity of public officers through training and professional development.
The Cabinet Office is the principal monitoring authority for policy implementation in the Virgin Islands.