Politics

Friday 1 August 2014

Fionnan Sheahan: The sacking powers that don't get used

Fionnan Sheahan

Published 10/01/2014|02:30

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WHO knew? Legislation has actually been in place for almost 60 years to effectively sack civil servants for under-performance.

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How often it has been used is not clear, but the number of times can probably be counted on one hand.

To be fair, the vast majority of civil servants do a good job and are dedicated. The success of Ireland's EU presidency showed how the civil service can outperform its EU peers.

The mechanism to remove poor performers is there under:

* The 1965 Superannuation Act, which involves the abolition of office, in effect compulsory redundancy;

* The 1956 Civil Service Regulation Act, which contains a disciplinary code, whereby a series of warnings can be issued.

However, the structures to effectively measure good and bad performance are not present. Without a way of saying who is doing a good job or a bad job, it is impossible to fairly reward and penalise performance.

It's a fine balancing act, but one that hasn't been achieved up until now.

During the boom times, bonus payments were given out across the board and increments are still awarded to everybody, despite supposedly being linked to performance.

The Government is now drawing up a plan on 'Strengthening Civil Service Accountability and Performance'.

Brendan Howlin says he will have actions to implement by the end of the year. Adequate accountability and performance measures will provide a better service to the public. But it is also in the interest of the civil servants, as bad apples can spoil the bunch and performance-related pay will incentivise workers.

Just don't hold your breath on large numbers being sacked.

Irish Independent

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