A move to shake up the executive team at Ballarat City Council is already underway just days after the appointment of a new interim CEO.
Janet Dore, who started last Friday, has informed all staff that current directors will be asked to reapply for their jobs.
An email from Ms Dore went out to all City of Ballarat employees on Tuesday evening outlining the action as part of a response to findings in the recent Ombudsman's report.
In a statement to The Courier late on Wednesday, Ms Dore said an "external, unbiased and independent" expert would help inform any changes required to the City of Ballarat structure.
Directors will continue in their professional capacity and I am confident of our capability to work together in continuing operationsJanet Dore, interim CEO City of Ballarat
She confirmed there would be a review of the directors' roles as part of that process, writing: "Directors will continue in their professional capacity and I am confident of our capability to work together in continuing operations."
"Once the culture review is complete, they will be invited to reapply for roles."
Ms Dore said the focus of her role was to implement changes relating to the Ombudsman's report findings.
The report, which was tabled on May 14 to the Victorian parliament, outlined the result of a wide-ranging investigation into allegations of nepotism in recruitment processes, as well as a failure to follow agreed procurement practices and queries over the use of purchase cards.
Justine Linley, the CEO at the time of the report's release, was sacked following a majority vote by councillors on May 18. Terry Demeo, whose work as director of infrastructure and environment was another focus of the Ombudsman, resigned on the same day.
As well as the departure of Ms Linley and Mr Demeo, the report weakened the position of two other unnamed directors - referred to as Officers D and E - with the recruitment process for their executive level posts described as "unwise at best and possibly improper".
There was no adverse comment or opinion made against those directors.
Janet Dore's email to staff, which has been seen by The Courier, said: "I have determined the first step to help the organisation move forward is to invite all directors to reapply for their roles.
The directors have been advised, the positions will be advertised in coming weeks.
Ms Dore said the recruitment process would be "conducted by a transparent and reputable company."
The Ombudsman's "Investigation of alleged improper conduct by Executive Officers at Ballarat City Council" was the second major report with critical findings against the council to be released within nine months.
An Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) report released last September highlighted shortcomings in the monitoring of a corrupt sports manager who defrauded council of $184,123 from 2013 to 2015.
Two other current directors, who were also unnamed, featured in that report. Again, there was no suggestion of wrongdoing, but there were strong criticisms of the council's processes for uncovering corruption.
A response addressing the concerns raised in that report is due to go back to IBAC this September, a process Ms Dore will also oversee.
Ms Dore has said proposed changes to the procurement policy will be among the first changes to be put before council.
The four current permanent directors at the City of Ballarat are: director of business services Glenn Kallio; director of community development Neville Ivey; director of innovation and organisational improvement Cameron Cahill; and Angelique Lush, the director of development and planning.
Darren Sadler is currently the acting director of infrastructure and environment, a post he has filled since the departure of Mr Demeo.
The announcement of the jobs review is a clear statement of the new CEO's intent to make changes at the City of Ballarat.
Ms Dore told media immediately after her appointment - which was confirmed last Wednesday following a unanimous councillor vote - that she would move decisively to address the findings of the Ombudsman's report.
"Things will happen fast. I don't waste any time. I very clearly know what has to be done because council's told me," she said.
Her appointment is the latest in a long career of high-profile council positions as well other government posts, including several years based in Geelong as CEO of the Transport Accident Commission. More recently she acted as a municipal monitor for the Rural City of Ararat Council.
Based in Buninyong, Ms Dore also had a three-year stint as the chair of the Committee for Ballarat.
Ms Dore is expected to be in the interim CEO role until the new council, which will be elected on October 24 this year, has recruited a permanent chief executive.
OMBUDSMAN COVERAGE: TIMELINE
May 14 The report is tabled
- City of Ballarat ombudsman report: 'jobs for mates' allegations regarding Ballarat Council executives
- Ombudsman report into Ballarat council: councillors express disappointment
- Ombudsman report into City of Ballarat: Councillors told to scrutinise CEO behaviour
- City of Ballarat ombudsman report: The intriguing finer details
- Ombudsman's report into Ballarat Council: What next for council officers?
- ANALYSIS: Troubled waters at town hall
- Ombudsman report pressures Ballarat Council to change complaints process
May 18, 2020: Resignation and sacking
May 19: Mayor talks about sacking
May 21: Price fixing links of acting CEO confirmed
May 24: Fresh doubts published over recruitment processes/ Fall out continues over decision to terminate Justine Linley's CEO contract
May 28: Push for new interim CEO
June 10: New CEO announced
JANET DORE'S FULL RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS FROM THE COURIER ABOUT DIRECTORS' JOBS
A key focus of my role is to implement changes relating to the findings of the Ombudsman's report.
The first step is to ensure the organisation continues with service delivery to rebuild community confidence. It is then important to assess the organisational culture which will be done with an external, unbiased and independent expert and used to inform any required changes to the organisation structure.
As part of this, there will be a review of Director roles. Directors will continue in their professional capacity and I am confident of our capability to work together in continuing operations
Once the culture review is complete, they will be invited to reapply for roles. The positions will be advertised in coming months, and all recruitment processes will be transparent and conducted by an independent and reputable recruitment company.
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