Save yourselves

Having been at the sharp end of the government's workforce adjustment stick, employees at Shared Services BC were likely strongly motivated to find ways of ensuring they won't be hit by another roundhouse of downsizing. Which could explain why the agency's new chief operating officer Bert Phipps received over 175 suggestions on how to reduce costs. Some of those cost reduction ideas are being implemented. And that means - when combined with attrition - Shared Services BC won't be have to issue "workforce adjustment letters to additional staff to meet our 2010/11 and 2011/12 budget targets." In an email sent yesterday afternoon, Mr. Phipps also announced two assistant deputy minister-level personnel changes at the agency. Lois Fraser is leaving for health services, where she'll be "leading a major project," while Wayne Jensen is leaving the civil service entirely. At the same time, assistant deputy ministers Sarf Ahmed and Valerie St. John will be joining Shared Services BC from children and family development and health services respectively. The following is a complete copy of Mr. Phipps's email.

From: COO Shared Services BC SSBC:EX
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 1:31 PM
Subject: Message from the Chief Operating Officer of Shared Services BC
Importance: High

Good Afternoon,

As many of you know, since my appointment I've been taking a very close look at the organization; the ongoing operations; transformation changes; linkages with the larger ministry; and relationships with our partners. I've also used as many opportunities as I could to hear directly from staff about where we are headed as an organization.

First, I want to say I've been impressed with the dedication and effort on the part of staff throughout Shared Services BC. There is no doubt people are working very hard to help us achieve our goals and deliver on our mandate.

We have been doing a careful analysis of our budget picture. Many of you participated in our recent budget savings exercise and we've received over 175 suggestions on how we can reduce costs. After reviewing all of your submissions, we've identified several cost reduction ideas that we can implement now, largely in IT and Real Estate, for immediate and ongoing savings.

I am now able to confirm that we will not be issuing workforce adjustment letters to additional staff to meet our 2010/11 and 2011/12 budget targets. We will be able to meet our targets through attrition and use of the identified operating savings. There remains, however, the need to realign positions and functions within SSBC as we move to stabilize processes and structures. We will keep you informed about those changes as we move forward.

These operating savings will be a challenge for us all collectively to achieve but I know that I can count on your support and your creativity to achieve our goal. Please join me in congratulating Hilary Woodward, Corinne Timmermann and Bobbi Sadler for their hard work in leading the SWAT team initiative. As they work to bring these ideas to fruition, many of you will be involved. We are all in this shared fiscal challenge together and it is encouraging to see staff sharing their knowledge and experience to identify ways to reduce costs and become more efficient. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts and ideas on ways to become even more efficient and effective.

I have also given careful consideration to the structure of SSBC and how we can best position ourselves for success on our transformation goals of lowering the cost of infrastructure, reducing duplication, increasing efficiency and delivering excellent client service. While there are a number of good attributes to the current structure, such as the consolidation of financial services and reporting and an emphasis on client service, I do believe some clarity in the structure is required and there is a need to re-balance accountabilities among executives.

Today, as part of the re-balancing, I am announcing some executive changes.

Please join me in welcoming two new Assistant Deputy Ministers to our SSBC Executive team - Valerie St. John and Sarf Ahmed. Valerie and Sarf bring with them a high level of expertise, having both worked in large and complex organizations with multiple stakeholders.

Valerie comes to us from the Ministry of Health Services where she has led human resources strategic planning for the health sector. Prior to that, Valerie worked extensively in private sector technology systems, where she was involved in contract negotiations, organizational strategic planning, and client service delivery.

Sarf, coming from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, holds distinction as a highly regarded Executive Financial Officer and brings with him a wealth of experience in a number of key business areas, including finance, information management/
information technology, facilities and procurement. In fact, his Procurement Governance and Policy Team just won a Premier's Award for Organizational Excellence. Sarf and Val's appointments are effective Monday, May 17, 2010.

I want to thank Lois Fraser and Wayne Jensen for their dedication to our organization, particularly during this past, challenging year. Their achievements on the transformation work to date are greatly appreciated. Lois will be leading a major project at the Ministry of Health Services, while Wayne is leaving the public service. I know you will join me in wishing them all the best.

I recognize the past year has brought a number of changes for staff already so these new changes come with considerable thought as to the impact on the transformation agenda and to all of you as the professionals responsible for that agenda. That is why we will be taking the time, once Sarf and Val join us, to consult with you on the best model moving forward and making only those changes deemed essential for our agenda and to support you in your work.

Together with Richard Poutney and Brad Grundy, I am looking forward to working with the executive team to move rapidly forward with our transformation. We commit to keeping you updated, informed and involved.

As I said when I first arrived, I'm really energized by the challenges and opportunities we face here at SSBC - as well as by all the great people within our organization wanting to make a real difference. I appreciate your ongoing professionalism and support.

Bert Phipps

Chief Operating Officer
Shared Services BC

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