Key Objective from Public Service Reform Plan 2014-16:Enhance the performance of organisations in the Civil and Public Service to ensure that they deliver the best possible outcomes.
Rationalisation of State BodiesThe programme of rationalisation of State Bodies has been substantially achieved, with more than 90% of the bodies to be merged or rationalised now completed, resulting in a more streamlined administrative landscape. There are 176 fewer State Bodies operating in the Public Service as a result of the programme, with a further reduction of 5 due once necessary legislation is enacted.
Recurring annual savings of over €15 million are accruing to the Exchequer, with a further €2.8 million in once-off revenue arising from the disposal of property. Further annual savings of €9 million will be achieved by 2018, as the full year efficiency savings from some of the measures are realised. In addition, about €40 million of annual savings will accrue to the local authority sector on foot of the reform and rationalisation of the local authority structures which took effect in May 2014.
Agency rationalisations completed in 2015 include the merger of the National Roads Authority (NRA) and the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) to form Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII). TII will benefit from combining the technical expertise and experience available in the NRA and RPA. It is anticipated that the merger will deliver a net cost saving of €3.4 million in the combined administrative budgets by the end of Year 3 of the merger.
Sport Ireland, which merged the Irish Sports Council and the National Sports Campus Development Authority, was established in October 2015. Sport Ireland is now the statutory agency for sport with a specific remit for high performance sport. The creation of the new agency advances the vision of a sustainable Irish system for Irish athletes largely based at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown.
Sectoral and Organisational ImprovementsThe White Paper on Defence, which established Ireland’s defence policy framework for the next decade as a whole of Government approach, was published in 2015. Amongst other things, the White Paper sets out the defence policy response to security challenges, including the defence contribution to international peace and security. It makes provision for a new system of fixed cycle reviews of defence requirements to ensure a flexible and adaptable response across Government. The White Paper also explores several new initiatives for Defence, including an Institute for Peace Support and Leadership training and a proposal for a new employment support scheme aimed at people in the 18-24 age group.
The majority of the provisions of the Local Government Reform Act, 2014 commenced in June 2014, activating a range of very significant changes to the Local Government system. In summary, the number of local authorities has been reduced from 114 to 31, the number of councillors now stands at 949 compared with a previous membership of 1,627, 80 town councils have been dissolved, 95 municipal districts has been established covering all counties (except the three Dublin County Councils and the cities of Dublin, Cork and Galway) and 8 regional authorities and 2 regional assemblies have been replaced by 3 regional assemblies. A review of the operation of the new system commenced in 2015 and will consider whether any changes are needed to the operation of the new structures and arrangements.
Significant progress has been made in relation to the civilianisation of immigration functions currently undertaken by members of An Garda Síochána and, in June 2015, Immigration Officers from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) took on full 24/7 responsibility for passport checks at Terminal 1 in Dublin Airport. The transfer of functions at Terminal 2 is a priority for 2016. These changes result in the release of Gardaí for redeployment to operational duties.
A major reform programme has been implemented by the Courts Service in recent years, delivering significant savings, and improved productivity and efficiency. Initiatives progressed include: the implementation of combined Circuit Court and District Court offices and the rationalisation of stand-alone court offices; the rationalisation of the Regional Management Structure; a streamlining of court procedures and processes; more effective contract and procurement management; proactive management of court fees; and support for the new Court of Appeal. In addition, the review of the delivery of services is ongoing and the Report of the Working Group on Efficiency Measures in the Criminal Justice System – Circuit and District Courts 2013-2014 was published in December 2015.
School self-evaluation (SSE) was introduced in primary and post primary schools in 2012, as an element of quality assurance in encouraging and supporting schools to build capacity and take more responsibility for the quality of provision. The SSE Guidelines articulate a clear set of standards for teaching and learning in schools and focus on improving outcomes for the learner, within an overarching school improvement objective. All primary and post-primary schools now engage in self-evaluation each year and develop action plans to build on their strengths and address areas for improvement. A new set of SSE guidelines, setting out a draft quality framework for leadership and management, will be finalised in 2016.
The final phase of the Workplace Relations Reform Programme was implemented with effect from 1 October, 2015. This represents the biggest reform to the State’s employment rights and industrial relations machinery in 70 years. The reforms, which provide modern and flexible workplace relations institutions, saw the existing five employment rights bodies merged into two bodies – the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the Labour Court. A significant level of streamlining, realignment and business process redesign has been carried out within the new WRC to meet the requirements of customers and stakeholders. This includes the replacement of 33 first instance complaint forms with a single form, a single portal of contact for information, complaints, claims and referrals, and an Early Resolution Service as an alternative to formal hearings.
Intreo, the new integrated service for all employment and income supports, was launched by the Department of Social Protection in October 2012. Roll out of all sixty Intreo centres nationwide was completed in 2015 and there has been significant consolidation and rationalisation at a local level. This also facilitated the restructuring and closing of some 460 Community Welfare Service satellite clinics by end 2015, while ensuring continuity of service. In total, the Department has achieved a reduction in operations from 988 locations in 2012 to 334 locations in 2015. The One DSP Changing Together programme, which commenced in 2014, continues to focus on building an organisation with a common identity, common values and a shared culture.
The WorkSmart initiative in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is supporting efficient information sharing and is underpinning more effective collaboration across the Department through the introduction of electronic systems to manage Ministerial Correspondence, Parliamentary Questions and submissions to senior management and Ministers.
The Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food’s design and delivery of 20 new schemes across direct payments and rural development areas of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) led to the payment of over €1 billion in 2015 to farmers. Ireland has led other Member States in implementing the new CAP and was the first country in Europe to make payments to its farmers in 2015.
In 2015, an agreement was signed between the Department of Finance and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) on a research programme covering macroeconomic and taxation issues. Under this agreement, the objective of which is to undertake and disseminate research on various macroeconomic and taxation issues in Ireland, researchers from the ESRI will work alongside officials from the Department on various research projects. The programme will run for two years in an innovation that builds on the ESRI’s proven economic research capability and the Department’s commitment to enhance its capacity for evidence-based policy analysis.
In 2015, the Department of Finance codified a Governance Framework for the Department. The objective was to produce a concise organisational specific Governance Framework that provides a clear and comprehensive summary of the principal aspects of corporate governance within the Department. This helped inform the development of a Corporate Governance Standard for the Civil Service, as part of Action 3 of the Civil Service Renewal Plan.
The development of a Quality Management Framework in the Central Statistics Office is an extensive and long-term programme of activities, which will ensure that statistical production meets the highest standards as regards quality and efficiency. The Quality Management Framework (QMF) project began its work in 2013 to develop an office-wide approach to: designing quality at the outset; controlling for quality during business operations; and establishing key metrics to measure quality statistical processing. Work to develop and test recommendations was completed in 2015 and a new area has been established within the Office with responsibility for implementation of the recommendations.
The Shared Incident Logging and Analysis System (SILAS) went live in 2015. SILAS is a single call and incident logging system sharing real-time information across the Irish Coast Guard’s three Rescue Coordination Centres, designed to boost the organisation’s incident management and Search and Rescue functions. It provides unprecedented support to incident responses through live resource tracking, information logging and tasking capabilities. It also delivers improved reporting capabilities across all categories of incidents. This ensures the Irish Coast Guard’s operations are adapted for the future by delivering the most effective use of resources through better information management.
Collaboration between DepartmentsThe coordination mechanism employed by the Department of the Taoiseach, in conjunction with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, to drive delivery of the Action Plan for Jobs ensured high-level political buy-in and oversight; whole-of-government engagement; and the establishment of quarterly targets underpinned by a robust monitoring system. A central communications function (#allaboutjobs) has helped to ensure a user-centric, innovative whole-of-government approach to inform business and potential employees of the range of supports and new developments. The Action Plan for Jobs has made a significant contribution to job creation and reducing unemployment with 135,000 new jobs created by end 2015.
Interagency co-operation in the Justice sector is being progressed through the development and implementation of joint strategies such as the Joint Probation Service and Irish Prison Service Strategy. Examples of joint initiatives implemented include the highly successful Community Return Programme which is an incentivised scheme for earned temporary release for suitable offenders serving sentences from 1-8 years. The scheme started in 2011 and to date in excess of 1,650 prisoners have participated with over 1,330 successfully completing it. In addition, over 900 prisoners have successful participated in the Community Support Scheme which addresses the recidivism levels of those serving sentences of under 12 months from certain catchment areas.
The Department of Social Protection has extended the range of services it provides to other Departments and agencies. This includes a payment service to women who worked in the Magdalen laundries on behalf of the Department of Justice and Equality; the administration and payment of the Water Conservation Grant to some 886,000 householders on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, a data sharing web service to support Student Universal Support Ireland in processing some 110,000 DSP related student grant applications and a data sharing web service providing means data, payment details and other personal data on an individual basis to South Dublin County Council.
Revenue has expanded the capacity of its Data Centre and now hosts core computer equipment for 33 Public Service Bodies. This work facilitates sharing public infrastructure and technical expertise with many smaller agencies which lack deep ICT capability without compromising security, privacy and independence. It also provides greater efficiencies, reduces outsourcing costs and reduces the use and fit-out of expensive office space for computer rooms.
Organisational CapabilityAction 20 in the Civil Service Renewal Plan provides for the development of a programme of Organisational Capability Reviews. The objective of the reviews is to assess how well Government Departments are equipped to develop and deliver policy and strategies to meet today’s delivery objectives and future challenges and to recommend practical actions to improve this on a phased basis. The model for the reviews was developed in 2015 and the new programme of Organisational Capability Reviews will commence in 2016.