Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel finds Government's COVID-19 response lacked transparency

16th March 2021

The Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel's (CSSP) interim report on the Government's response to COVID-19, published today, has found the transparency of decision-making bodies to be inadequate. The Panel's report reviews key ministerial decisions related to COVID-19 and provides an in-depth examination of the strategy, governance and policy implemented in response to the pandemic from March to December 2020.

The report puts forward 20 key preliminary findings and 13 recommendations, including:

  • The lack of transparency in relation to the minutes of decision-making bodies (Council of Ministers, Competent Authorities and Emergency Council) and the Scientific and Technology Advisory Cell (S.T.A.C) must be addressed immediately to ensure Islanders have a clear understanding of on what basis decisions are made.
  • The Council of Ministers and other decision-making bodies have not always followed the advice of S.T.A.C and should communicate when this is the case.
  • The Channel Islands Pandemic Influenza Strategy has not been updated for several years and does not align with COVID-19 strategies. The Government should identify the timeline for a revised Pandemic Strategy and demonstrate how this aligns with COVID-19 strategies.
  • The Government has not reviewed Islanders' views on the COVID-19 policy; a survey should gauge Islanders' perceptions of the Government's pandemic response and its ongoing strategy to better inform future decision-making. 

In relation to public funds, the Panel found that in 2020, all COVID-19 costs were addressed on a case-by-case basis and no budgeting appeared in any strategies. The Panel recommends the Minister for Treasury and Resources considers the procedures regarding the allocated, drawn down and unspent monies against COVID-19 expenditure and whether these reflect the fluid nature of the pandemic.

Chair of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, Senator Kristina Moore, said "The need for the Government to provide clarity and transparency in decision-making related to COVID-19 is crucial, particularly when it comes to the minutes of decision-making bodies. Whilst the Panel appreciates the pace at which the Government has had to respond to this pandemic, the Panel's recommendations should inform the ongoing response and that of future crises. The Panel will continue monitoring the effectiveness of Government decision-making and evaluate the potential long-term societal impacts of these decisions in its next report."

The next stage of the review will consider the Government's ongoing response to COVID-19 throughout 2021, in which the Panel will seek to identify opportunities to aid the implementation of positive decision-making during emergency situations such as the pandemic.

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