(14 August 2013)

Overview of the Reform Process in CARICOM

 

At the Twenty-Third Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government (March 2012  Suriname) Heads of Government considered the Final Report on the Review of the CARICOM Secretariat, entitled Turning Around CARICOM: Proposals to Restructure the Secretariat.  The Review was undertaken in keeping with the decision taken by the Heads of Government in July 2010.  It was carried out by independent Consultants, Landell Mills Ltd, under the supervision of Project Management Team drawn from Member States.  Financial support was provided by the European Union.

At their meeting in Suriname, Heads of Government having received the presentation of the Report agreed that since “form followed function” it was necessary to re-examine the future direction of the Community and the arrangements for carrying this forward which would include the role and function of the Secretariat.  They also agreed that the Secretary-General should begin the process of addressing the restructuring of the Secretariat through, inter alia, the recruitment of a Change Facilitator who would provide him with the necessary support for the change process. 

In discussions between the Secretary-General and the UK Government, the latter agreed to support the employment of a Change Facilitator, through its department for International Development (DFID).

The Team of Dr. Gwendoline Williams and Associates of Trinidad and Tobago was awarded the contract. 

On 1 November 2012, the Change Facilitation Team formally took up its assignment to assist the Secretary-General and his Executive Management team as change leaders, in providing Change Facilitation Services to the CARICOM Secretariat. 

The Reform Process will take place over three (3) years.  The Reform Process is seeking to bring about Change within the Community.  The change is essentially moving from the current state where the efficacy of regional integration in the Community is frequently questioned and its impact and value not readily apparent, to one where targeted results for the benefit of the people of the Region can be planned, monitored, measured and so seen and appreciated by the population.  The Reform Process is designed to facilitate the structured, effective implementation of the transformation of the Community and its Secretariat, in alignment with an agreed Community strategic thrust for the benefit of the people.

The Reform Process has two (2) primary, expected outcomes –

  • A Five-year strategic Plan for the Community; and
  • A transformed Secretariat with strategic focus, implementation capacity and strengthened corporate functions guided by the approved Community Strategic Plan.

At the Twenty-Fourth Inter-Sessional Meeting (March 2013, Haiti), Heads of Government agreed to support the reform process at national level through, inter alia, the designation of Change Drivers with key deliverables of coordinating and facilitating the change process at the national level.  The Change Drivers would, in the first instance, coordinate the national consultations to be held in Member States on the Strategic Plan.

The Change Drivers group have agreed on their roles and responsibilities and the timetable and arrangements for the Consultations on the Strategic Plan.  Mechanisms are being put in place at the Secretariat for ongoing interaction with Change Drivers and to ensure timely, effective sharing of information throughout the strategic planning process.

The Change Drivers will serve as interlocutors for their respective Heads of Government regarding the reform process within the Community including the reforms to be undertaken at the CARICOM Secretariat.  In so doing, they will ensure that their respective Head of Government is kept abreast of developments regarding the Reform Process.  The Change Drivers will be integrally involved in the reforms to be undertaken within the Secretariat and not solely involved in the reform process at the national level.

A Five-Year Strategic Plan for the Community

Among the issues considered by the Change Drivers, was the draft design for the consultative process on the Strategic Plan.  One of the guiding principles of the strategic planning process is that it seeks to build on previous strategies.

The consultations will be supported by a Data Collection Guide which draws on desk research towards the preparation of an environmental scan.  The scan seeks to assess the external and internal environment of the Community in terms of their potential impact on the current and future state of the Community, particularly in the planned period to 2018.

The research examines previous work that has focused on improving the environment for effective regional integration and realising the intent of the Treaty of Chaguaramas.  It includes a review of a range of regional studies (such as the Landell Mills Report), policies and strategic documents.  The research also includes national and regional development plans and national budgets. It has been sufficiently advanced to reveal some common, core issues which could be considered as priority areas or key results.

These issues are of regional import and had already been identified by Heads of Government as critical areas at their Twenty-Second Inter-Sessional Meeting held in Grenada in 2011 and also at their Retreat held in May 2011 in Guyana.  These are also noted key result areas in the Revised Treaty and appear in some form in the national budgets of most Member States. Groundwork has already been laid regionally, so prioritising them will lead to building on what already exists.  Moreover, these priority areas undergird other priorities for the Region like human and social development through capacity-building, generating employment and social and Community enhancement.  They are -

  • Agriculture, in particular food and nutrition security;
  • Crime and Security;
  • Energy security;
  • Intra-regional transport;
  • Environment and climate change; 
  • Economic growth and development;
  • Youth;
  • ICT; and
  • Services.

Accordingly, in developing the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community, the above- mentioned proposed priorities are being used as a starting point for dialogue in the consultation process with Stakeholders in Member States.

In addition to the priority areas, the desk research examines the Governance, Institutional and Operational Arrangements as they relate to the ability of the Principal Organs, Organs, Bodies, Member States and Institutions to lead and manage regional integration and to achieve the goals for the Community as laid out in the Revised Treaty and other subsequent regional mandates.

The Reform Process involves clear agreement on the roles and responsibilities of these major actors in the CARICOM Construct.

Among the key findings of the research in respect of governance and institutional arrangements are the need for -

  • A strengthened governance ‘infrastructure’ which facilitates compliance with, and accelerated and effective implementation of, CARICOM mandates;
  • Developing and maintaining fora/mechanisms for sustained engagement of stakeholder groups (youth, private sector, Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) community etc.);
  • An effective mechanism for sustainable funding of the work of CARICOM;
  • Strong, consistent, relevant communications that informs and engages the people of the Region;
  • Strengthening the information and communications infrastructure to facilitate good governance, cooperation among stakeholders and effective management of the programme of work for CARICOM;
  • An appropriately structured Secretariat and other implementing agencies, ensuring adequate resources are in place to optimally fulfil their roles;
  • Clarity of roles and responsibilities, as well as improved dialogue and collaboration among the implementing agents across CARICOM (i.e. CCS, institutions, ministries in Member States);
  • Addressing the staffing challenges and gaps in expertise in the CCS, Institutions and Members States;
  • A robust monitoring and evaluation system that facilitates good accountability and managing performance across multiple implementing agencies.

Consultations on the Community Strategic Plan

The Consultations on the Strategic Plan are intended to address the Vision, Mission and Core Values of the Community; priority areas for attention in the period 2014-2018; and the most appropriate and efficient governance and management structures for the Community, as well as the means for monitoring and measuring the results on implementation.

A Pilot consultation was held in Barbados during the period 5-7 June 2013 in order to: validate the approach and methodology to the development of the Strategic Plan including the use of the prepared Data Collection Guide; and develop a model or preview of what the Strategic Plan could look like (based on the outline approved by the Heads of Government) with data/inputs from the selected country.

The recommendations from the Barbados pilot have served to validate the findings of the priorities identified through the desk research.

The Prioritising Model

The Change Facilitation Team has developed a model to enable prioritisation across stakeholder groups and Member States.  The approach involves mapping the discussion for each group of stakeholders (through detailed note taking and a visual mapping of the main issues and cross cutting themes), then deriving a composite map of priorities.  The composite maps for the Member States will then be analysed to produce a composite map of priorities for the whole Community.  The composite priorities emerging from the Consultations will be filtered through the environmental scan which reflects work already in progress in the Community to derive the final recommended priorities for implementation 2014-2018 for consideration and decision by Heads of Government.

This model was used for documenting and analysing the consultations for the Strategic Plan in Barbados and will be used in the other consultations.

Proposed Schedule of Consultations in Other Member States -

The Consultations are to take place from August to October 2013. It is intended that the Strategic Plan be submitted to the Twenty-Fifth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference in 2014. 

Reforms within the CARICOM Secretariat

  • Establishment of an Internal Change Team

Within the Secretariat, an Internal Change Team has been established comprising members of the Organisation’s Senior Management Committee, representatives of the Staff Association as well as nominees and volunteers from across the Offices and Directorates.  The role and functions of the Internal Change Team are as follows -

  • From an Organisational Perspective
  • Promote new processes and behaviours that would reflect the changes agreed for the CCS;
  • Enable periodic reviews, using appropriate tools for measuring outcomes and impacts of the change, to assist in identifying possible performance gaps, and work to develop and implement corrective actions.
  • From a People Perspective
  • Assist in the implementation of the change plan, including the communication and resistance management sub-plans, with particular focus on the people side of the change;
  • Network with and enable participation of all levels of staff to facilitate success, mutually beneficial to Community and Staff;
  • Be an active and visible advocate for staff concerns in the change process, assisting in identifying potential ‘people-side’ risks and anticipated points of resistance, and developing specific plans to mitigate or address the concerns; and
  • Create and enable reinforcement mechanisms and celebrations of success.

The Team, which comprises some forty (40) persons, is a representative group of over 10% of the staff complement and will work in four(4) sub-groups to give focused attention to critical areas for the change.  In that regard, at its inaugural meeting on 9 May 2013, the following four (4) priorities for action for the Team were determined to give support to the initiatives underway –

  • A Communications Plan to support the change process;
  • The Strategic Plan for the Community;
  • Human Resource Management; and
  • The Work Programming Process for the Secretariat.

Priority has been given to the establishment of the Internal Change Team to ensure widespread buy in, commitment and facilitate sustainability of the Change process across the Organisation.  It was recognised that it would be important to first build the change management function across the organization, co-opting managers and staff given that the approach to the change is participatory and designed to develop a wide capacity in the Secretariat to manage change on a sustained basis. This also ensures that the reform of the Secretariat is embraced by persons at all levels of the organisation and that persons are actively engaged. This arrangement will be complemented by the establishment of a small change office in the Office of the Secretary-General, with specific personnel recruited to this office.

    • Strengthening Communications on the Change Process

A communications plan to support the Reform Process has been drafted which includes both an internal and external component.  Staff have been kept abreast of developments regarding the Change Process, through an internal newsletter -two (2) issues produced so far, in February and July 201 - as well as through a dedicated section on the Secretariat’s Intranet.  A more proactive internal communications approach is to be implemented through the Communications Sub-Group of the Internal Change Team. 

  • Strengthening the Human Resource Management Capacity of the Organisation

Work has commenced to strengthen the Organisation’s Human Resource Management capacity with initial focus on strengthening Human Resource (HR) policies and procedures, development of an HR customer charter and strengthening of the Organisation’s performance management system.  While efforts to date have focussed on the HR department itself, attention will also be paid to building capacity of all supervisors and managers across the organisation to support their staff through the change process.

The HR Department will work with the HR Sub-Group of the Internal Change Team to advance these areas. In addition, to further accelerate the reform in HR, the Secretariat is in the process of negotiating support offered from the Australian Government to acquire expertise in the HR area.

  • Refocused Work Programme

 

Work has commenced towards refocusing the Secretariat’s Work Programme using a thematic/integrated approach with shared targets and goals across Offices and Directorates.  Accompanying this will be a move towards true programme budgeting.  A Sub-Group of the Internal Change Team will work to roll out a refocused and more integrated work programme for the 2014-2015 Work Programme cycle.

  •  Office of the Secretary-General

A needs analysis of the Office of the Secretary-General has been initiated.  The analysis is examining the existing strengths and highlighting where the gaps exist with a view to making it more strategic in approach and orientation.

Review of CARICOM Institutions

The review of the Community Institutions, which has been mandated by Heads of Government, is an important aspect of the overall Reform Process within the Community.  The Terms of Reference for this review was approved by the Community Council at its Thirty-Second Meeting in May 2013.   The Secretary-General has begun discussions with some International Development Partners to support this particular aspect of the Reform Process.

At their Thirty-Fourth Regular Meeting held in Trinidad and Tobago in July 2013, Heads of Government welcomed the finalisation by the Community Council of the Terms of Reference for the Review of the Community Institutions. They agreed that this exercise was a priority given its importance to the overall Reform Process in the Community and that the Community should seek to partner with International Development Partners in its execution.


See also: Restructuring the Secretariat - Landell Mills Final Report

 
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