The interim recommendations state: "As at July 9, 2012 there were 548 posts vacant. The estimated cost savings based on a salary average of $70,000 per post, together with the savings on benefits, would amount to more than $40,000,000 in savings. Any funds in the budget that are associated with the posts which are not filled should immediately be frozen.
The interim recommendations state: "As at July 9, 2012 there were 548 posts vacant. The estimated cost savings based on a salary average of $70,000 per post, together with the savings on benefits, would amount to more than $40,000,000 in savings. Any funds in the budget that are associated with the posts which are not filled should immediately be frozen.

 

Government should implement an immediate hiring freeze to save $40 million, according to recommendations contained in SAGE Commission's interim report.

The report also says that Government should act immediately on its policy of mandatory retirement at 65.

The SAGE Commission’s primary objective is to streamline Government processes and save money.

The interim report, which was released today, states that the estimated Government deficit in 2012 was $243,549,000 and predicted that would increase to $331,593,000 in 2014.

The interim recommendations state: "As at July 9, 2013 there were 548 posts vacant. The estimated cost savings based on a salary average of $70,000 per post, together with the savings on benefits, would amount to more than $40,000,000 in savings. Any funds in the budget that are associated with the posts which are not filled should immediately be frozen.

"However, notwithstanding this general recommendation, in certain special cases, and subject to the discretion of the Minister of Economic Development, additional employees are required to meet International conventions or to support revenue generation for the Government and the Island as a whole."

The report also recommends that a cross-Ministry committee be formed to prepare and implement a plan to tackle money owed to Government in the form of taxes, fees, fines and social security contribution.

The report states: "This plan should only consider using existing resources within the Government or outsourcing collection to a debt collection agency."

It adds: "Until such time as a cross-Ministry committee prepares a comprehensive asset management plan for all Government assets to ensure that existing Government-owned or leased assets are effectively and fully utilised, there should be: (i) no new spending for capital or development projects; and (ii) no new leases for new or replacement accommodation or renewal of leases."The will play Curacao on Saturday at 4pm.

Download the SAGE Commission Interim Report (pdf).


SAGE Commission press release

The SAGE Commission, an independent body established by an Act of Parliament in April this year and charged with identifying ways to create a more modern, efficient and accountable government for Bermuda, today commented on its report outlining interim findings and recommendations.

At a press conference this morning, Commission Chairman Brian Duperreault said the report had been delivered to Finance Minister E.T. “Bob” Richards and that Minister Richards had released the report to the media. 

“As required by the SAGE Commission Act, we gave Minister Richards a copy of the interim report,” said Mr. Duperreault, “and, with its release by the Minister, we would like to comment on it now.

“This report is, by design, simple and to the point.  Its purpose is to spell out the issues facing the country, provide concrete data to illustrate our initial findings and recommendations, and generate discussion. 

“Going forward, we’ll continue the dialogue we’ve begun with the Bermuda Civil Service and the public with a view to producing a final report that represents the best of our collective wisdom. That report will be a blueprint for how to establish the type of government Bermuda needs and can afford.

“Early on in our process, we began to get a good sense of what’s working and what isn’t working in our Government. As we became more deeply involved in information gathering and fact-finding, we have been able to analyse and collate data that validated those early indications.

“As a result, the SAGE Commissioners are confident in our interim findings. There are six of them:

“1. We believe the public is unaware that there is a substantial body of work, prepared by Government employees and others, that addresses the issues facing Bermuda, and that few of the recommendations have been acted upon.

“2. The pension schemes operated by the Bermuda Government for the benefit of its employees, Ministers and Members of the Legislature, and the public, are unsustainable in their current form and as currently operated.

“3. Preliminary indications are that health care costs are unsustainable on an ongoing basis.

“4. There is a lack of accountability in the management of employees in Government service which has created a culture that inhibits innovation, creativity and leadership.

“5.  Significant improvements to efficiency and effectiveness in the Bermuda Government could be made through improved central management of key strategic functions, information systems and human resources. Core functions, such as real estate management, could be centralized; the multiple Human Resource management and Information systems that stem from the Civil Service and the Public Service could be integrated; and a single, common point of access to Government services, particularly those delivered over the Internet, could be provided.

“6. The work of the SAGE Committees has been hampered by not being able to find comprehensive and centralised information on the number of individuals employed in the Civil Service and the wider Public Service, or comprehensive and centralised information on the assets, particularly properties, owned by Government. Even as I speak, I’m not sure I can tell you exactly how many people are currently employed in the Bermuda Government.

“As a result of these findings, we make the following interim recommendations, and there are six of these:

“1. The Bermuda Government should act immediately on its policy of mandatory retirement at age 65.

“2. Government should institute an immediate hiring freeze on all categories of employees including, but not limited to, permanent, temporary, relief, contract and consultants.

“Let me give you some background to this recommendation. As of July 9, 2013, there were 548 posts vacant in Government. If these posts are left unfilled, the estimated cost savings - based on a salary average of $70,000 per post, together with the savings on benefits - would amount to more than $40 million.

“We’re also recommending that any funds in the budget - associated with the posts that aren’t filled - be frozen immediately.

“Having said that, we’re aware that in certain specific cases, and subject to the discretion of the Minister of Economic Development, additional employees are required to meet International conventions or to support revenue generation for the Government and the Island as a whole.

“3. A cross-Ministry committee should be formed immediately to prepare and implement a plan to address the collection of all amounts owed to Government including taxes, fees, fines and social insurance contributions. This plan should only consider using existing resources within the Government or outsourcing collection to a debt collection agency.

“4. Until a cross-Ministry committee prepares a comprehensive asset management plan for all Government assets to ensure that existing Government-owned or leased assets are effectively and fully utilised, there should be no new spending for capital or development projects, and no new leases for new or replacement accommodation or renewal of leases.

“5. Government should form a SAGE-like Commission to review heath care cost containment in Bermuda. This is a complex issue that requires singular, specialized focus. We don’t have the time to do justice to a review of health care. But it must be done. Health care costs are spiraling out of control.

“And, finally,

“6.  Government should immediately form a SAGE-like Commission to review economic growth and the current lack of liquidity in Bermuda.  The SAGE Commission has been charged with reviewing costs but someone has to look at revenue generation and job growth. As I’ve said before, we can’t cut our way to recovery. We have to find ways to grow our economy.

“We feel these initial recommendations can be implemented now, and we hope they will be. They represent input from a broad range of individuals and organisations in the public and private sector. You’ll find a list of the people we’ve heard from and met with in our report.  

“As I said earlier, a lot of good work has already been done by Government employees and others. But their recommendations, many of which are echoed in our interim report, haven’t been implemented. 

“There may be many reasons for this, but one reason is that taking action on some of these recommendations was, and still is, difficult. Hard decisions must be made.

“In the case of pensions, promises will have to be broken if the young people coming up behind us are going to have any hope of receiving a pension when they retire. Currently, anyone aged 37 and younger won’t get a pension when he or she retires at age 65.

“Our health care system is simply unsustainable. Government can’t afford to continue to subsidise it, so we’re looking at costs tripling in the next eight years – and those costs are going to fall on the shoulders of every person in Bermuda. The Bermuda Health Council estimates $26,000 in total health care costs per person by 2021.

“In this age of instant messaging, Google hangout and Cloud-based data collection, it makes no sense that we can’t build a central point of access to Government and its services, or that our databases are spread so far and wide that we can’t accurately aggregate staffing levels. We have the tools to fix this, so let’s do it.

“I’m told that the SAGE Commission’s report will gather dust on the shelves because there’s no political will to carry out our recommendations.

“I don’t believe this is up to the politicians. It’s up to all of us. We’re the ones who have to care enough to support the changes that have to be made. We’re the ones who have to look our kids in the eye and say “I know I did what I could to leave you a country that’s in good shape.”

“In closing, I want to thank my fellow Commissioners – Kenneth Dill, Catherine Duffy, Peter Hardy, Don Mackenzie and Kim White. They’re working around the clock on this project, as are the Chairs of our four Committees – Dame Jennifer Smith, Tom Conyers, Martha Dismont and Henry Smith – and the members of their committees. We’re all supported by staff and volunteers who likewise are spending thousands of hours getting this work done. You’ll find the names of everyone who’s been involved so far in our interim report.

“We have three months left to complete our data collection and interviews, and to write our final report. We will continue to engage Government, its employees and the public throughout this process.

“The blueprint we submit in October will be one that’s pragmatic but sensitive to the Island’s social and cultural needs; one that positions us competitively; and one that serves Bermuda’s best interests, now and for generations to come.”