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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A failure of process

It is my strong view that where there is public money involved in the appointment of any position then there should be a proper and transparent process involving advertisment and competition so as to ensure that the best person gets the job.

To avoid doing so not only opens the door to cronyism and favouritism, but it also undermines equal opportunities and potentially discriminates against minorities because they do not have a chance to apply and be assessed on their own merits.

This is certainly the case in North Wales where, as is reported in the Daily Post their police and crime panel last month declined to rubber-stamp the appointment of Ann Griffith as Commissioner Arfon Jones’ new deputy after claims there had been “a lack of transparency” and that the £42,000 a year job had not been advertised.

The fact that the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner was elected may give him the legal right to overturn the panel's decision, but it does not give him the moral right to appoint a political ally to a publicly funded post without a proper appointment process being followed. In my view that is a disappointing use of his office.

The Welsh Government is equally as guilty of this 'cronyism'. In both the last Assembly and this one they have appointed a total of ten Special Advisors without any proper competitive process. These jobs attract a salary of between £55,000 and £70,000 a year.

The Welsh Government claim that the way they appoint Special Advisors is not new. Their spokesperson also says that they use the same process that was followed by my party in the coalition Welsh Government between 2000 and 2003. Both claims are untrue.

In that coalition government there was a competitive process involving advertising the posts and interviewing multiple applicants. That method has apparently been abandoned in the last five years.

In 2004, the Welsh Government spent £12,392.03 in advertising Special Advisor posts. In 2005 that amount was £12,385.30 and in 2008, it was £1,066.83. In 2011 and 2016 they spent no money at all in advertising 10 posts.

The facts contradict the Welsh Government's claims. Without a properly competitive process the Welsh Government cannot guarantee the best people are given the jobs. They are in breach of equal opportunity legislation.

Publicly funded posts should not be appointed at ministers’ discretion. They should be advertised and appointed in the same way as any other public sector job.
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