Ray Hession’s testimony to Standing Committee on Government Agencies

The transcripts for the 30 min interview with the Standing Committee on Government Agencies was posted yesterday.

http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/committee-proceedings/committee_transcripts_details.do?locale=en&Date=2010-02-01&ParlCommID=8859&BillID=&Business=Intended+appointments&DocumentID=24632#P83_4416

Some comments that I found interesting:

  • In this opening speech, Mr. Hession concluded with the following statement of intent: “Mr. Chair, if your committee supports my nomination by the government as chair of the board of directors of eHealth Ontario, we, the board, will move quickly to establish strengthened governance and, in particular, become a disciplined and collaborative integrator, emphasizing the public value-led, importantly, by a seasoned new chief executive officer. Secondly, we will build an image and reputation based on the quality of our solutions and of the services we provide. Finally, and importantly, we will achieve the outcomes stipulated in the eHealth strategy.”
  • When asked about his past experience regarding compliance with procurement rules, Mr. Hession stated that “… in an earlier life, was the deputy minister federally responsible for procurement, so, without any bravado here, I have a considerable amount of experience in the subject matter …  But more recently, I’ve served as fairness commissioner on two major capital projects involving the government of Ontario
  • With regard to his approach for ensuring that the auditor’s recommendations are in place, Mr Hession stated that “I find his findings, conclusions and recommendations compelling” and “…given all the moving parts, given a new CEO, a new chairman, a number of new board members, I believe that an executive committee of the board is a necessity, an absolute necessity, such that that tight coupling can occur and that there is an information flow between the two parties that enables proper accountability on the one hand but also maintains a pace of activity that goes with a lot of moving parts.
  • When asked “How are we going to restore the public’s confidence?” and “How are you going to ensure that electronic health records are going to be made available to all Ontarians?”, Mr. Hession suggested that “The strategy needs to be translated, in the context of the work to be done, into an architecture …. the fact of the matter is, unless you know quite specifically what it is you’re going to build, you run reasonably high risks of failure. So we need that architecture.” He also noted that “My hope and expectation is that with the architecture, clearly defined, flowing from that strategy, we will begin to see real product, good quality, results, and that’s what will begin to reinvigorate the image and reputation of the organization.
  • When asked by the opposition whether he would be able to “stand up to” the Premier or the Minister of Health, Mr. Hession replied, “From my point of view, I did not want to be, nor was I seen to be, anybody’s toady. I spoke for the council, and the council spoke on behalf of Ontarians with respect to the performance of the health system. A large part of that speaking had to do with the very subject we’re here to talk about today.

I was hoping that the committee members would ask a question about the process of finding a new CEO.  I have heard a rumour that eHealth Ontario offered the job to someone and the person turned it down.  I am hopeful that with Mr. Hession at the helm qualified candidates will feel more comfortable considering the position.

Mike

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