AG says Civil Status staff have attitude problem

Some of the challenges at the Civil Status Registry are attributed to the information on record, but do you think that some of the difficulties lay with the people who are actually working there and their attitude to their work?” was a question this reporter posed to the Attorney General this week.
Without hesitation, Attorney General Lorenzo Rudolph Francis answered, “I would agree with you. I will be candid about it.  The major problem in that department is the attitude of staff.  Persons in the public service must recognize that you are providing customer service and a public service and that you should treat every single member of the public with due respect and give them that due attention.  Unfortunately when you are dealing with human nature, you will have persons who are going to let their characters basically influence the service that they give to the public.  One can’t really influence that.”
Francis’ remarks were made at a press conference on Tuesday morning to introduce a new unit that the government hopes will clear the backlog of birth and baptism certificates at the Civil Status Registry.
The AG asserted the Registry has been an inherent problem for decades.  He revealed that government recognized the need to sever birth and baptism certificates from the general operations of the department. As a result, the Ministry of Justice has implored a new unit comprising twenty young people from outside the public service to function within the department.  Their sole duty is to deal with birth certificates.
The STAR wondered whether it wasn’t this administration who proclaimed they would take stringent steps to put a cap on the public service.  We put the question to the AG.
He responded, “The twenty additional persons are on a special project and they won’t actually be increasing the size of the public sector.  It is a trial for four months.  At the end of this time we will evaluate the success of this program.  Some of these persons would have proved themselves to be persons who we may want to retain within the department.  It may actually make us aware of some individuals who currently work within that department who we may need to deal with retraining or who we need to be more efficient.”
He continued, “So the unit will not increase the public service per say.  We wanted individuals with a fresh perspective and work ethics to come into this department whose sole duty is to assist in processing this documentation.”
As far as the AG is concerned, this unit is essential to the Civil Status Registry because, “We have assessed the work flow and recognized that we can actually process between 400 and 500 birth certificates per day if we get a proper work flow going with persons who are not tainted and persons who are committed to completing this task.  This unit will be operation from Wednesday [October 12].”
With only a forty eight hour waiting period for a birth certificate, the AG estimates that there will be “no lines” in the coming week.
Still on the topic of the registry, Francis noted the department’s current location does not lend itself to expansion thus creating a bottleneck.  Another reason for the backlog he says is the fact that staff still has to resort to a tedious ledge system.   Though the Taiwanese have given a new computerized system to work with, only seventy five percent of the information has been digitized while the other twenty five percent is proving to be a hindrance.
In addition to the already laid out plans for the registry, Francis revealed an intended renovation of the Adjudicator’s Office as well as the employment of additional registrars.
Francis, during the press conference, took time to highlight the achievements of the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s Chambers.  “There are a number of programs initiated since my appointment.  Some have been stonewalled by the bureaucracy of the public service.”
One the successes of the Ministry of Justice is the return of the Registry to full service.  The Registry was on limited service because of the excess carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, which were having a negative effect on staff.  Based on reports by CDERA and CEHI, a purification system was ordered and installed and the AG says things are back to normal.  He called this achievement a dual good; healthier conditions for the staff and good news for the legal fraternity whose work was also affected by the conditions of the Registry.
According to Francis, 95 percent of renovation on the High Court is completed. The refurbished structure now boasts of, among other additions, two criminal court rooms, a cloak room, washroom facilities for attorneys and an interview room where attorneys and clients can converse in private.
The Halls of Justice is to be constructed within the next administration’s term, a building has been acquired for the Magistrate’s court which will open in the next few months and funds for the refurbishment of the district courts is expected to come through in the next couple of months to increase security and comfort at those facilities, announced Francis.
In December 2010, the then newly appointed and enthusiastic Attorney General laid out his wish list for the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Chambers.  Though he has made good on some of his promises, there is still much to be done.

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