Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Assembly Government

Just in case some of you were thinking of applying as the deadline is upon us.


These notes provide candidates with information on the above appointment. Paragraphs 16 to 22 give information on how to apply. Please note that applications need to be received at the address, email or fax number given in paragraph 17 by 10 January not later than noon.

1. The Welsh Assembly Government is the devolved government for Wales, with wide-ranging responsibilities for developing policy and putting it into practice. Its law-making powers, originally bestowed by the Government of Wales Act 1999, have recently been enhanced (by the Government of Wales Act 2006). Its four priorities are currently: helping more people into jobs; improving health; developing strong and safe communities; and creating better jobs and skills. The list of policy areas for which the Welsh Assembly Government is responsible is at Annex A.
2. The First Minister of Wales is the Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan AM and he has appointed 8 Welsh Ministers to serve in his Cabinet, which is the main decision making body of the Welsh Assembly Government.
3. Assembly Government Ministers are supported by a workforce of over 6,000 civil servants, just over half of whom are located in Cardiff with the remainder based in 80 or so Assembly Government offices across Wales and elsewhere. Assembly Government civil servants, led by the Permanent Secretary, are accountable to Assembly Government Ministers who are in turn accountable to the National Assembly for Wales; this is the legislative body, which comprises 60 elected Members and is based in Cardiff.
4. The Welsh Assembly Government is one of the largest public sector bodies in Wales, with an annual budget of over £14 billion. It is a young organisation which is maturing fast following the establishment of devolved government in Wales in 1999. It is at the leading edge of reform of the Welsh public sector, with the aim of delivering better integrated and more responsive services for the people of Wales.
5. The Welsh Assembly Government comprises eight Policy Departments and five Corporate Departments. The Heads of Department form the core of the organisation’s Management Board, chaired by the Permanent Secretary, which also includes non-executive Directors – currently two, with up to two more being sought through open competition to take up post early in 2008.
6. Over half of the staff is located in Cardiff, with the other 45% in over 80 Assembly Government offices around Wales and further afield. By 2010, over 50% of staff will be working outside Cardiff. There is a target for securing recurrent administrative efficiency savings of £10.6m for 2007-08, increasing to £12m in 2008-09.
7. The people of Wales, and their government, face unprecedented challenges. The programme of government set out in One Wales: A progressive agenda for the government of Wales meets these challenges head on. It offers a progressive agenda for improving the quality of life of people in all of Wales’s communities, from all walks of life, and especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. The ambition is no less than to transform Wales into a self-confident, prosperous, healthy nation and society, which is fair to all.
8. Further information is available on the website.

The role
9. The key elements of the role of Permanent Secretary are:
· chief policy adviser to the First Minister and the Assembly Government Cabinet;
· Principal Accounting Officer, accountable to the National Assembly for Wales for Assembly Government expenditure;
· head of the Assembly Government civil service, with leadership responsibility for the organisation and for its corporate strategic direction, priorities and results; and
· an active role in the corporate leadership of the UK-wide civil service, through membership of the Civil Service Management Group and other corporate contributions.
10. The functions and responsibilities of the job include:
· overseeing the provision of all strategic advice to the First Minister and the Assembly Government Cabinet;
· leading and driving internal business change, through defining corporate strategic aims and setting priorities for improving the organisation’s capacity to deliver Assembly Government policies;
· allocating and managing financial and staff resources in line with Assembly Government priorities;
· assessing and managing strategic risk, and overseeing a transparent system of prudent and effective controls;
· motivating and developing a large senior management team, and providing strategic and personal leadership to the wider Senior Civil Service management team (of around 140 people);
· protecting and enhancing the organisation’s reputation for administration and delivery, and aspiring to set the standard for the public service in Wales; and
· developing and managing effective relationships with the Assembly Government Cabinet, the Assembly, Whitehall and the Devolved Administrations, key partners and stakeholders, and others.

The person
11. The successful candidate should ideally possess the following qualities and characteristics:
· Leadership: a strong track record of successfully driving change and delivery in a complex and demanding environment;
· Political awareness: a thorough understanding of the constitutional and political context within which the Welsh Assembly Government operates, together with the ability to identify and defuse potentially sensitive issues and to operate effectively in a highly transparent environment;
· Determination and personal resilience: the capacity to find a way through difficulties and to persevere in the face of criticism, including criticism in the media/public domain;
· Communication: the ability to articulate clear messages to staff, partners and stakeholders, and to manage complex relationships across boundaries;
· Personal effectiveness: the ability to inspire and motivate through personal example, to set and uphold standards, and to see through tough decisions when necessary;
· Financial Management: an understanding of what it means to be personally responsible for a large and complex budget, and for maintaining strong governance arrangements;
· Knowledge of Wales: an excellent appreciation of the policy issues facing Wales and a sensitive understanding of what matters to the people of Wales;
· Welsh language skills: experience of operating in a bilingual environment could be an advantage; as could the ability to speak Welsh although this is not essential.

Terms and conditions of employment
12. This is a permanent appointment under normal Civil Service terms. An attractive package will be offered. The current minimum is £148,841 and the starting salary will be set with the agreement of the independent Permanent Secretaries Remuneration Committee, taking account of experience and relativity to other similar Permanent Secretary posts. The salary will be reviewed annually by the independent committee. Like others at this level the appointee will be eligible for a non-consolidated bonus depending on performance against their specific delivery objectives. There is an annual leave allowance of 30 days, plus 8 days’ bank holiday and 2.5 privilege days taken at fixed times of the year.
13. The retirement age for the Civil Service is currently 65. Unless you decide otherwise, pension benefits are provided under the Civil Service Pension Scheme. The headquarters of the Welsh Assembly Government is in central Cardiff and relocation expenses may be available if you have to move to take up the appointment.

Equality and Diversity
14. We are committed to supporting the principle that everybody should have the same opportunities for employment, development and progression. This should be based on their ability, competence and suitability for the job.This means that no applicant or employee should receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of their race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, religion, family or domestic responsibilities, or working patterns. Also, nobody should be disadvantaged by any specific conditions or requirements, unless it can be justified that these could affect their ability to do the job.

Speaking with a representative of the so-called Welsh Civil Service yesterday morning, I was reminded that selection for appointment to the Civil Service is on merit on the basis of fair and open competition. Unless there happens to be an impressive person of Welsh descent roaming the corridors of Whitehall in search of what was previously seen in HR terms as a stepping stone to higher office.

It's no job for a lady - or should that read - rarely a job for a lady. Rachel Lomax, Sir Jon Shortridge's predecessor at the former Welsh Office remains the only woman to head-up the 'Wales Department' in its various guises. As the New Year's Honours list is still topical - it reminds me that she still remains the only Permanent Secretary of that department (1996-1999) not to have been given a titular honour.


Anonymous 1 January 2008 at 15:28  

Derek Jones is at least Welsh. But I'd settle for the next Permanent Secretary (or quite a few other WAG senior civil servants) deigning to even live in Wales.

Anonymous 1 January 2008 at 19:18  

What about the rumours about Gareth Hall being a dark horse for the job.

Never has a nonentity risen so far so quickly....

Anonymous 1 January 2008 at 23:21  

Isn't Gareth Hall the bossy one known for upsetting his staff?

dotcommentator 2 January 2008 at 15:19  

Go on Miss Wagstaff, you should apply.

The advert should say at the end of the background section: "If you didn't know any of these points before reading there's little point in applying."

Issy 2 January 2008 at 15:21  

This seems a little harsh on Rachel Lomax given her career. She's managed to achieve more than most so it make you wonder what she's done wrong.

Anonymous 2 January 2008 at 18:00  

Rachel Lomax was ace in the post we could do no better, but why would she come back. She has a brilliant job.
What about an expat. who is working in the Civil Service outside of Wales - we could do with someone with good relative experience to lead.
Gareth Hall - you are joking he is not a civil servant.
Of more interest to me today is the report from JRF on the regeneration of the Valleys, may be someone as Perm Sec who could understand that life is important beyond Cardiff would be good. This is what I blogged on today -hoping possibly someone from WAG or a politico would read it!

Sir Humphrey 2 January 2008 at 20:58  

Rachel Lomax? are you kidding, the disaster that was and to an extent still is the Siemens contract with the assembly was in her watch. I believe £32 million overspend on the last contract??? She moved on and left the new assembly with that disastr, no civil serant shoud be inthe honours list for doing there job anyway.
Gareth Hall - maybe to justify the salary he brught in from the WDA, but hardly.
It'd be nice to have someone outside Wales to be frank, to shake things up a bit. Currently the welsh civil service id dire. Inside Wals Gareth Jones ex WAG and now Companies House, has to be favourite.

Miss Wagstaff 2 January 2008 at 23:16  

Wasn't suggesting that Ms Lomax be brought back, merely puzzled as to why she remains the only Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Office/ Welsh Assembly Government not to be given an honour.

My selection(s) are in the post.

Anonymous 3 January 2008 at 00:03  

Sir Humphrey said:
"It'd be nice to have someone outside Wales to be frank, to shake things up a bit. Currently the welsh civil service id dire."

Wake up Humphrey! Most of the senior lot are already from outside Wales. Jon Shortridge doesn't even live in Wales.

sir humphrey 3 January 2008 at 01:17  

anonymous - in response, Jon Short lives in Shrewsbury which is to be air close enough, but i agee not ideal, who else prey tell lives outside? Lets not be too insular people

dotcommentator 3 January 2008 at 09:53  

I don't think many people would associate civil servants with shaking things up at all.

The important thing is not so much where THEY come from but if they understand the issues in Wales (not many in England do). In fact (referring to Miss Wagstaff's most recent blog post) it is rather indicative that almost ten years since the start of the Welsh Assembly a story that basically says 'things are now developing differently in the devolved regions' should be news to anyone.

Ffion 3 January 2008 at 12:22  

Pippa gets the impression that Rhodri would prefer a Welsh candidate next time round rather than one parachuted in by Whitehall.

Anonymous 3 January 2008 at 18:44  

What about John Taylor - he was always popular and efficent.
He is also now head of ACAS so would have lots of skills to bring

Lisa 3 January 2008 at 23:15  

John Taylor has far too much experience and would find the civil service in Cardiff too restrictive and full of redundant ideas.

Anonymous 6 January 2008 at 10:14  

Get a taff in there, too many Saxons at the top already.

Bit hard to single out Lomax for the Siemens contract, every IT contract in every Government Dept is a bloody disaster. Nothing works and the more they don't work the more money the IT providers make .... a scandal.

Anonymous 6 January 2008 at 18:39  

Siemens is nothing -look at LG
Yes Lsa you are probably right John Taylor would be too good, but a breath of fresh air.
If these people earn thier big fat salaries in Wales,I think that they should live and spend some of it here.

Miss Wagstaff 7 January 2008 at 10:38  

There's nothing quite like IT contracts. IT is always a bloody disaster in government departments as one comment states.

VM - It would be nice if they knew something about the country and its current situation before they take on the role of 'Chief Poicy Adviser'.

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