Sorensen top bureaucrat
Premier names long-time aide first chief of staff

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 02/00) - Premier Stephen Kakfwi has appointed long-time staffer and former MLA Lynda Sorensen the Government of the Northwest Territories' first chief of staff.

 Reached at the Edmonton airport on the way to a meeting of premiers in Quebec City, Sorensen (left) said the main duty of the new position is increasing the efficiency of the cabinet offices.

"In our experience over the last 12 years, there's been a demonstrated need to bring a co-ordination and a standardization to (cabinet) offices," said Sorensen.

She offered a few examples of what has already been introduced.

During business hours, phone calls to cabinet ministers' executive secretaries will always be answered by a live human voice. The hiring process for cabinet staff now includes a conflict-of-interest interview, designed to reveal any business or personal connections that could cause embarrassment to the government.

Sorensen is also introducing procedures to speed up staff responses to requests from cabinet ministers.

Asked where the title came from, Sorensen said, "If you look at the lineup of premiers' offices across the country, most have chiefs of staff. It's a political position with administrative responsibilities."

In addition to co-ordinating cabinet staff, Sorensen will be serving as Kakfwi's executive assistant for intergovernmental affairs.

A resident of the North since 1970, Sorensen is a veteran of Northern politics.

She was elected twice to the legislative assembly, in 1979 and 1983. She resigned her Yellowknife South seat in 1984 in an unsuccessful bid for federal office.

A loyal Liberal, Sorensen served as campaign manager for Western Arctic MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew. She has worked as Kakfwi's executive assistant since he became a cabinet minister in 1987 and served as his executive consultant when he was president of the Dene Nation.