Staffing Review of the Wales Office
Purpose and Methodology
By late 2001 the Wales Office had been in existence
for over two years. When the Department was created, its size,
its remit, and its special relationship with the Assembly all
marked it out as being rather different from most other Government
departments. Because of these unusual characteristics it was not
possible for those who initially determined its budget and its
staffing to foresee exactly how it might eventually have to function.
After two years of operation both Ministers and the Head of Department
felt that the time was right to examine the existing assumptions.
They also felt that this could only be done satisfactorily by
bringing in an entirely fresh pair of eyes to take a rigorous
and objective look at the organisation.
Following a tendering process, Inbucon were
therefore asked to advise on whether or not the Department's staffing
level was appropriate for its current role. Inbucon are a private
sector consultancy; the lead consultant on the Wales Office work
had considerable experience of reviewing public sector organisations,
including some years spent as a staff inspector within HM Treasury.
The work was carried out in late 2001 and early
2002 and the final report presented in February 2002.
There were two key elements to the review:
a questionnaire to be completed for
as many posts as possible (for the 48 posts in the staffing structure,
36 questionnaires were completed)
follow up interviews with a consultant
(interviews were held with 21 members of staff).
The consultants also met Ministers, visited
the Assembly and the Scotland Office, and attended an all-staff
meeting to explain the process.
The review found that the Department had more
work than it could satisfactorily cope with and that most staff
were therefore working under pressure. Amongst the aspects on
which it commented were:
the amount of work made it difficult
for staff to be proactive. There was not enough time to foster
contacts with Whitehall departments or for them to read into or
round their subject responsibilities;
although staff were committed to
the work, prolonged periods of being over-stretched had the potential
to threaten morale;
recruitment difficulties meant that
junior posts were often filled by casual or Agency staff. However
able these people might be, their limited stay meant that managers
felt they could delegate only basic work to them, thus increasing
the workload of the managers themselves;
staff were on average working 43
hours a week (the standard working week is 36 hours in London
and 37 hours in Cardiff). Even so they were not able to complete
all that needed to be done.
The review's conclusions on the overall staffing
picture were as follows:
"The current staffing complement is significantly
below where it should be and this shortfall is preventing the
Wales Office from adequately fulfilling its role. In an ideal
world therefore, we would be recommending:
the introduction of 13 new posts
(being 1 x G6/G5, 2 x HEO/HEOD, 7 x EO and 3 x AO); and
the re-grading of three posts
(being 1 SEO to G7 and 2 AA to AO).
This would produce a staffing increase of 28%
which, we believe, would cause some difficultiespartly
due to the problem of having so many inexperienced/new people
and partly due to the presentational difficulties of such a large
(in percentage terms) increase in staffing.
On balance, therefore, we have decided to moderate
our recommendations in order to make them more manageable, by
only recommending the essential changes (ie the desirable, but
not essential posts have been dropped). The result is:
the introduction of 9 new posts
(being 1 x G6/G5, 1 x HEO/HEOD, 5x EO and 2 x AO) and
the re-grading of 3 posts (being
1 SEO to G7 and 2 AA to AO).
This increase of 9 staff translates in to a
19% increase in staff resources, which we believe is the minimum
increase that is required in order to enable the Wales Office
to adequately undertake its current role.
It is also important that the vacant posts (of
which there are 5) are filled, as these proposed staffing and
organisational changes take that into account"
In the light of the review, and bearing in mind
the many other pressures on the Welsh block, the Secretary of
State has decided to add seven posts to the existing complement.
These will be at the middle grades within the organisation and
will strengthen the Department's capacity to deliver timely and
good quality policy advice.
Head of Office