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De Ole Dawg – Part 22: 2017 -Failing the opportunity test

De Ole Dawg – Part 22: 2017 -Failing the opportunity test

Do we “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”?

BRADES, Montserrat, – Does the recent dismissal of the Programme Management Office Head, Mr Carl Gomersall,[1] throw away key opportunities for Montserrat?

Sadly, yes.

To begin to see why let us recall an earlier article in this “De Ole Dawg” series[2] that reported on a telling point made during the budget speech:

“In his June 9th, 2017 Budget Speech, Premier Romeo said that, ‘[w]e took radical steps to ensure that the longstanding problem of delays in projects will be minimized by implementing a Programme Management Office  (PMO) . . . .  This will improve our value for money business cases, project and programme governance, transparency, and risk management. Such measures will help us improve our ability to effectively implement a sound development programme and put an end to underspending, and project over-runs.’ In short, the PMO and its PRINCE2-based standards for project and programme management are pivotal to the growth and transformation programme that is now beginning with the UKCIF and EU-funded first phase port development project.”

Ironically, the dismissal under a “no cause” clause has already cost us much of a year of work that has now been tossed aside. For, when someone is fired by being surprised at work and marched off the premises there can hardly be an orderly handover.  Worse, it will predictably cost us another year to get back to somewhere close to where we were just before the PMO head was marched off the compound under escort.

And, the “no cause” dismissal is a strong indicator that Mr Gomersall was not found to be guilty of theft, sabotage, spying or the like gross misconduct. Indeed, according to reliable reports, he had already resigned in protest, but was persuaded to return to office. He returned in good faith, only to be subjected to – and this is fair comment – what looks far too much like retaliatory behaviour.  (Putting this another way: why wasn’t the PMO head instead put on administrative leave? Surely, that would allow matters to be properly and fairly investigated; and, if necessary, it would give opportunity to arrange for a proper hand-over of work. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark – err, Montserrat.)

Further, some may doubtless imagine that they can cobble together a patchwork of second-rate substitute measures and that will be good enough. Not at all. Instead, let us face sobering truth: for cause, our programme and project management credibility has long since been severely damaged. So, only the introduction of world-class, highly regarded standards and systems such as PRINCE2 can rebuild confidence.  And, without rebuilt confidence, our key transformational projects will remain stuck in endless circles of talks.  Precisely because, there are unresolved questions about capability, transparency, accountability and potential for corruption.

So, we must also ask, how has the Gomersall firing affected progress on the seaport breakwater? The hospital? Fibre Optic cable and connectivity? Geothermal development? Developing a new capital city? Capacity building for programme and project management, including the introduction of the world-class PRINCE2 system of standards, organisation and training? And, much more?

Already, we have to face the fact that in 2011 – 12, DfID for cause concluded that the Montserrat Development Corporation had failed:

“ . . . the MDC has not performed to date as had been expected. The diagnosis of this failure is clear – too broad a remit given the staffing constraints, over-ambitious targets and expectations, lack of clarity on how much independence and authority MDC was to be given, poor governance arrangements, a micro-managing Board of Directors and inadequate performance from the original implementing consultants.”

Yes, DfID put in another $5+ millions and tried to help pull MDC out of the morass it was stuck in. Sadly, that too failed, and by 2014 we saw whistle-blowers, investigations and a funding lock-off.  Then, in 2015, we were splashed across UK news headlines[3] as a capital example of aid failures.

In short, we have to rebuild our credibility and demonstrate world-class capacity to manage the US$ 200 – 400 millions of investments across 10 – 20+ years that it is going to take to transform our economy. Where, by missing the MDC boat, we already have missed the opportunity to draw from DfID’s then rapidly growing budget as it moved towards the 0.7% of national income aid target. Now, the growth has tapered off, and with several sister Caribbean territories being devastated by hurricanes over the past few weeks, we are suddenly no longer unique as a disaster-ravaged Caribbean overseas territory.

The PMO was a key part of that rebuilding of capacity and credibility, but it too has obviously become needlessly stuck in a morass.  Just in time for the month of three hurricanes.

So, today our challenge is to work with our sister territories to address post-disaster recovery, rebuilding and sound development.  To do so, let us soberly draw lessons from what has happened here since 1995, let us reform what we must and let us work hard together with our sister territories to move forward.  END

[1]           “Head of PMO dismissed without cause – the Premier laments,” TMR, Sept 28, 2017, p. 6. https://www.themontserratreporter.com/head-of-pmo-dismissed-without-cause-the-premier-laments/

[2]           DOD, part 13, 2017, June 11th: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-13-2017-prince2-and-moving-towards-an-economy-transformation-programme/

[3]               http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3084557/400m-foreign-aid-fiasco-paradise-Bribery-kickbacks-tax-money-siphoned-pet-projects-tiny-Carribean-island-British-worker-blew-whistle-paid-devastating-price.html

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Do we “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”?

BRADES, Montserrat, – Does the recent dismissal of the Programme Management Office Head, Mr Carl Gomersall,[1] throw away key opportunities for Montserrat?

Sadly, yes.

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To begin to see why let us recall an earlier article in this “De Ole Dawg” series[2] that reported on a telling point made during the budget speech:

“In his June 9th, 2017 Budget Speech, Premier Romeo said that, ‘[w]e took radical steps to ensure that the longstanding problem of delays in projects will be minimized by implementing a Programme Management Office  (PMO) . . . .  This will improve our value for money business cases, project and programme governance, transparency, and risk management. Such measures will help us improve our ability to effectively implement a sound development programme and put an end to underspending, and project over-runs.’ In short, the PMO and its PRINCE2-based standards for project and programme management are pivotal to the growth and transformation programme that is now beginning with the UKCIF and EU-funded first phase port development project.”

Ironically, the dismissal under a “no cause” clause has already cost us much of a year of work that has now been tossed aside. For, when someone is fired by being surprised at work and marched off the premises there can hardly be an orderly handover.  Worse, it will predictably cost us another year to get back to somewhere close to where we were just before the PMO head was marched off the compound under escort.

And, the “no cause” dismissal is a strong indicator that Mr Gomersall was not found to be guilty of theft, sabotage, spying or the like gross misconduct. Indeed, according to reliable reports, he had already resigned in protest, but was persuaded to return to office. He returned in good faith, only to be subjected to – and this is fair comment – what looks far too much like retaliatory behaviour.  (Putting this another way: why wasn’t the PMO head instead put on administrative leave? Surely, that would allow matters to be properly and fairly investigated; and, if necessary, it would give opportunity to arrange for a proper hand-over of work. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark – err, Montserrat.)

Further, some may doubtless imagine that they can cobble together a patchwork of second-rate substitute measures and that will be good enough. Not at all. Instead, let us face sobering truth: for cause, our programme and project management credibility has long since been severely damaged. So, only the introduction of world-class, highly regarded standards and systems such as PRINCE2 can rebuild confidence.  And, without rebuilt confidence, our key transformational projects will remain stuck in endless circles of talks.  Precisely because, there are unresolved questions about capability, transparency, accountability and potential for corruption.

So, we must also ask, how has the Gomersall firing affected progress on the seaport breakwater? The hospital? Fibre Optic cable and connectivity? Geothermal development? Developing a new capital city? Capacity building for programme and project management, including the introduction of the world-class PRINCE2 system of standards, organisation and training? And, much more?

Already, we have to face the fact that in 2011 – 12, DfID for cause concluded that the Montserrat Development Corporation had failed:

“ . . . the MDC has not performed to date as had been expected. The diagnosis of this failure is clear – too broad a remit given the staffing constraints, over-ambitious targets and expectations, lack of clarity on how much independence and authority MDC was to be given, poor governance arrangements, a micro-managing Board of Directors and inadequate performance from the original implementing consultants.”

Yes, DfID put in another $5+ millions and tried to help pull MDC out of the morass it was stuck in. Sadly, that too failed, and by 2014 we saw whistle-blowers, investigations and a funding lock-off.  Then, in 2015, we were splashed across UK news headlines[3] as a capital example of aid failures.

In short, we have to rebuild our credibility and demonstrate world-class capacity to manage the US$ 200 – 400 millions of investments across 10 – 20+ years that it is going to take to transform our economy. Where, by missing the MDC boat, we already have missed the opportunity to draw from DfID’s then rapidly growing budget as it moved towards the 0.7% of national income aid target. Now, the growth has tapered off, and with several sister Caribbean territories being devastated by hurricanes over the past few weeks, we are suddenly no longer unique as a disaster-ravaged Caribbean overseas territory.

The PMO was a key part of that rebuilding of capacity and credibility, but it too has obviously become needlessly stuck in a morass.  Just in time for the month of three hurricanes.

So, today our challenge is to work with our sister territories to address post-disaster recovery, rebuilding and sound development.  To do so, let us soberly draw lessons from what has happened here since 1995, let us reform what we must and let us work hard together with our sister territories to move forward.  END

[1]           “Head of PMO dismissed without cause – the Premier laments,” TMR, Sept 28, 2017, p. 6. https://www.themontserratreporter.com/head-of-pmo-dismissed-without-cause-the-premier-laments/

[2]           DOD, part 13, 2017, June 11th: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-13-2017-prince2-and-moving-towards-an-economy-transformation-programme/

[3]               http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3084557/400m-foreign-aid-fiasco-paradise-Bribery-kickbacks-tax-money-siphoned-pet-projects-tiny-Carribean-island-British-worker-blew-whistle-paid-devastating-price.html