Report details confused, dysfunctional department

James McLeod
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John Noseworthy

The Department of Advanced Education and Skills is reeling from restructuring and scores of layoffs, but a new report released Wednesday indicates there’s a lot more work left to be done.

On Wednesday, government officials confirmed the 2013 budget will lead to more than 100 College of the North Atlantic employees getting laid off as the government privatizes adult basic education programs. Hundreds of people lost their jobs earlier this month when the department cut funding to employment assistance services provided by third-party operators.

Both programs were addressed in a 472-page report by former auditor general John Noseworthy, which looks at the whole of the Advanced Education and Skills department to streamline services and make things run better.

The report paints the picture of a dysfunctional department where employees are deliberately dishonest about their budget needs, and programs are poorly monitored, and don’t serve the function for which they’re designed.

“For the most part, the department is not strategic in its decision-making processes,” Noseworthy wrote. “Service flow for clients is disjointed and unnecessarily cumbersome.”

Noseworthy found that budget submissions from programs in the department are “knowingly inaccurate” because different sectors of the department request more money than they need to ensure that they’ll get enough to continue to operate.

Staff across the department can’t electronically share information, and in some cases, they have to fill out paperwork to share information about clients.

The department was created more than a year ago as a marriage of the old Human Resources, Labour and Employment along with post-secondary education programs, including Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic.

Noseworthy found in the past year, nothing has been done to get those parts to work together. “To date, there has not been any formal integration of these organizations, which has undoubtedly contributed to the current disjointed service delivery model.”

Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons said the whole government adventure with creating Advanced Education and Skills, and then the process of getting Noseworthy to study it, is all evidence that the government did things backwards. “They slapped all of this together with terrible results so far,” he said.

Parsons said Minister Joan Shea really should’ve studied how to integrate the different parts before they merged the departments, instead of afterwards.

On Wednesday, reporters learned that Shea has decided to privatize adult basic education programs, saying it can be done more efficiently by taking it away from the College of the North Atlantic.

Shea said the government hasn’t actually been tracking students who are subsidized by the government to complete adult basic education programs, to see how many are graduating, and whether their programs are effective.

“We don’t have clear results on any of the graduations to say which places do better,” she said.

One thing the government does know is that the program at the College of the North Atlantic costs three times more than comparable programs elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, so Shea is convinced that by privatizing, it can be done more cheaply. “We think that we need to continue to offer the program, but we can do it more effectively and more efficiently,” she said. “What we do know is that the cost to go to a community group or to a private institution is less than what it costs to go to the College of the North Atlantic.”

Noseworthy’s report is extremely detailed, with scores of recommendations. Shea wouldn’t say what exactly her top priority is when she starts implementing the recommendations; she’d only say that she’s definitely going to get to work on them.

“We’re going to take that report, we’re going to go through it now, recommendation by recommendation,” she said. “We want to make sure as a department that we don’t shelve the report — that it becomes a working document — and we’ll work through the entire report.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic.Noseworthy, College of the North Atlantic, College of the North Atlantic.Shea Department of Advanced Education and Skills Human Resources

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • My Recommendation
    March 29, 2013 - 20:16

    Joan Shea should be fired.

  • Charlie
    March 28, 2013 - 09:49

    Joan Shea should be fired. But I doubt that will happen as she is best friends with Kathy Dunderdale. This province is being run by 2 incompetent woman who are making scores of mistakes. They are unwilling to listen to the people. They give their friends appointments that are not qualified to do the job. They will both be defeated in the next election if they run again. If Dunderdale don't run again she will transfer over to a golden pension. Shea will only be 50 at the next election so I expect she will be looking for work for 5 years before her golden pension kicks in. I am so disapponted with these 2 politicians!

  • Islander
    March 28, 2013 - 09:31

    There are to many chiefs and high paying chiefs within the department and Chiefs that are over the age of 65 plus and still hawling in a high salary. These are the ones that need the axing.... not the front line workers..... some of the front line workers are more experienced than some of those high paying managers. Up to the Confederation building they are stepping over one another.... Time to clean up the act.

  • Newfoundland Tax Payer
    March 28, 2013 - 09:11

    Dear Premier, After review all the cuts you are making to government services, I would like to suggest one more. I had the unfortunate honor of reading this report and coming from a managerial background and being a Newfoundland tax payer who is sick and tired of paying for incompetent minsters and politicians, I would like to demand this minister be removed from her portfolio effective immediately. I am not from the district that voted her in, so I cannot request her to step down, but that would be a bonus. Being a person whose work is audited several times a year, I can honestly say that if the owner of my company reviewed such an audit as this. Spelling out in great detail the lack of management, guidance and professionalism, I would be escorted of the premises faster than the blink of an eye and to be honest I would understand why I was fired, because I was obviously in over my head and did not have the knowledge and or will to do my job properly. I understand if you are unable to see this gross negligence, as you yourself can be accused of the same statements, made above concerning your minister, but fear not we will deal with you next election. Regards, Newfoundland Tax Payer

  • tom
    March 28, 2013 - 08:43

    Probably pass it along to the PC friendly Keyin Tech. Let's see how this patronage plays out.

  • P F Murphy
    March 28, 2013 - 08:23

    She doesn't know the outcomes, BUT she thinks she has a buddy who can make a buck at it if she put it in the private sector. What's she going to do, pass it to a hockey club on Bell Island and run it for beer? Throw out the report and the Minister who is obviously floundering from disaster to disaster.

  • Dave
    March 28, 2013 - 07:23

    God help us all, Joan saying that CNA is cheaper than the private institutions? Wow she is well informed for a Minister of AES! Public should demand the resignation of this Muppet!!