Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016

3.1 Civil Service

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Each year, the Civil Service makes a vital contribution to modern Irish life: advising the Government on complex economic and social challenges; implementing major policies and programmes; overseeing, inspecting and regulating services; representing Ireland’s interests abroad; and delivering critical public services which people rely on each day.

Although the Civil Service forms a small part of the wider Public Service, its central role means that it is uniquely placed to drive and enable wider change – assisting all parts of the Public Service to achieve their objectives, progress reform and deliver outcomes that impact on the ground.

Like any organisation, the Civil Service must continually adapt to the environment it is working within to deal with new challenges and to ensure it is responding to the needs of a rapidly changing society. Many significant steps have already been taken to improve how the Civil Service operates, including a range of sectoral, departmental and cross-cutting reforms.1

This period of change has highlighted the strengths and values of the Civil Service – integrity, impartiality, fairness’ – but also remaining areas for improvement – for example, embedding a focus on implementation and outcomes; maintaining a clear sight on customer needs; expanding professional expertise in key areas (HR, Finance, ICT, change management); strengthening organisational performance and measurement; and ensuring cost-effective delivery.2 It has also highlighted the need for a strategic vision for the Civil Service – that can set a practical path for the future, building on the progress that has already been achieved.

To address this, a process to renew the vision and strategy for the Civil Service commenced in 2013 to ensure that the Civil Service as a whole has the capacity and capability required to meet the increasing demands and pressures facing the organisation and those that work within it.

A Taskforce of civil servants from across Government Departments and Offices, working with Secretaries General, is leading this process to develop a shared, practical and motivating vision for the future of the Civil Service, underpinned by clear actions to achieve it. Since commencing, the Civil Service Renewal Programme has hosted a range of open, honest and practical conversations about the future of the Civil Service and will continue to do so throughout 2014 - online and in offices around the country.
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The programme will build on the existing strengths of the Civil Service while also targeting current challenges, for example: clarifying the role of the Civil Service into the future; ensuring effective ‘whole-of-Government’ working; building expertise, skills and capabilities; and strengthening organisational performance.

The renewal process will be open and inclusive – seeking views and ideas from a range of internal and external perspectives, in particular Civil Service staff, on tangible changes that can make a real and positive difference, so that the Civil Service has the capacity and capability it requires to meet Ireland’s needs in the years ahead.

In 2014, following a continued process of deliberation, consultation and engagement, an integrated vision and strategy for the Civil Service that outlines specific actions will be developed and will form a key strand of the Public Service Reform Programme.
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1. See Second Progress Report on the Public Service Reform Plan (January 2014)
2. The Organisational Review Programme between 2008 and 2011 identified significant Civil Service wide challenges. See for more details.
© 2014 Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Contact