A General Election will be held on Wednesday, 13 October 2021, if more than 12 valid nominations are received on Nomination Day. The closing date for candidate nominations is 12 noon on Wednesday, 29 September 2021. This year’s Election will be historic – the first under a ministerial system of Government.


Leading up to the General Election we continue to provide regular information articles on how a Ministerial Government will work.


This week’s focus is on the role of the St Helena Public Service.


If you have any questions you would like to have answered in any of these articles please send them to the SHG Press Office via: or on tel: 22368.


What is the Public Service?


The Public Service comprises a Central Support Service and five portfolios:

  • Health & Social Care
  • Education, Skills & Employment
  • Environment, Natural Resources & Planning
  • Safety, Security & Home Affairs
  • Treasury, Infrastructure & Sustainable Development.


The Chief Secretary is the head of the Public Service and is supported by the Deputy Chief Secretary, the Financial Secretary and Portfolio Directors who together form the Public Service Senior Leadership Team.


The Public Service supports the three separate branches of government: The Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.


What are the roles and responsibilities of the Public Service?


The Chief Secretary has overall responsibility for the management of the Public Service (including recruitment, structure, and risk and performance management) and is the senior policy adviser to the Governor and the Chief Minister.  The Financial Secretary is the principal financial adviser to the St Helena Government and adviser to the Minister with responsibility for finance.


Portfolio Directors are responsible for the operational management of their Portfolio. This includes management of their delegated budget and allocation of resources, including staff, to the various services within their Portfolio. They are also responsible for the implementation of strategy, policy and legislation and are the primary policy advisers to the Minister responsible for their Portfolio.


What is the difference in roles between Ministers and Portfolio Directors?


Ministers exercise general direction and have policy control within their Portfolios. The Portfolio Directors are responsible for the day-to-day management of their Portfolios.


How will Elected Members work with the Public Service to set the strategic direction?


The Strategic Framework has two key levels to it. The top level is the National Goals and Strategic Outcomes. Sitting underneath these are Strategic Priorities and Performance Indicators to help achieve the National Goals. Ministers approve policy/strategies which are relevant to a particular Portfolio, whilst Executive Council approves policy/strategies which are broader or have a national impact.


The Public Service will develop policy/strategies, objectives/targets and performance indicators, based on policy priorities agreed by Executive Council. Ministers will provide input during the development of these and will communicate progress to the people of St Helena.


What relationship will Ministers have with Portfolio Directors?


The significance of a trusting, confident relationship between ministers and their senior officials is vital to effective policy design and delivery of government business.


It is expected that Ministers will hold structured discussions with their Portfolio Directors in the days and weeks following their appointment, to establish a clear understanding of priorities and ways of working.


Ministers will be located within their relevant Portfolio and will work closely with their Portfolio Director. Both the Minister and the Portfolio Director will be supported on a daily basis by a Portfolio Assistant. Portfolio Directors are answerable to Ministers but are not directly managed by them, the Chief Secretary has management responsibility for all Portfolio Directors.


It is not expected for Elected Members or senior officials to agree on everything, but leadership requires consensus to achieve and then togetherness to deliver the agreed objectives.


The commitment to respecting the principles of democracy and the rule of the majority is clearly set out in the preamble to the 2009 Constitution of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.


In our final issue next week we will look at the role of the Public Accounts Committee and the Scrutiny Committees. Please send in any questions you may have by 12 noon on Monday, 27 September 2021, via the contact details above.


These Information Releases are also available online at:



23 September 2021