11 February 2008

Did he really say that?

We believe that a strengthened public service will ensure that individuals are being hired on their merits as opposed to who they know in government.
According to the Telly editorial on Monday, those were the words Premier Danny Williams spoke in 2004. He said them, on province-wide television in the infamous January 5, 2004 speech about government's financial plans.

It is a laudable sentiment and the provincial government's 2005 action in creating a public service secretariat within the government itself is a commendable step to making merit-based hiring a reality throughout government.

That's why a competition for commissioners and a chief executive officer for the public utilities board was a great leap forward in handling appointments traditionally made by cabinet from a rather closed process that didn't always appear to be based on merit as most of us would understand the term.

The 2007 public competition showed signs of a real change, despite the efforts made to work around the process for selecting the chair and chief executive at the offshore regulatory board.

In light of all that, it remains very odd that the provincial government made no effort to point out that the selection of Andy Wells as head of the public utilities board came out of a merit-based hiring process, the one the provincial government itself started.

Not only that, but as Bond Papers pointed out on Friday, there isn't any public indication of what happened to the competition. Resumes were assessed but after that, there's been no sign of the whole affair. There are still two commissioner positions vacant at the board.

There's no question that Danny Williams made it a policy of government to move to merit-based hiring throughout government.

He did it on province-wide television in 2004.

So what happened to the PUB competition?