Wednesday 29 March 2017

Inept civil servants 'will be dismissed'

Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt. Photo: Mark Condren
Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt. Photo: Mark Condren

Anne Marie Walsh

There is a "problem" with underperformers in the civil service, a senior Government official admitted - as he vowed to ensure they can be sacked more easily within months.

Secretary General at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt, said the existing system used to measure performance "didn't work for us".

He said the level of underperformance is "certainly much higher than 0.1pc" of the workforce, as was claimed in previous reports on the issue.

And Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe ruled out the return of bonuses as an incentive for the sector's 36,000 workers. The minister and secretary general were speaking at the launch of a second report on progress under a three-year Civil Service Renewal Plan.

The introduction of a performance management ratings system, with just two scores to evaluate an employee's work, is a priority this year, as well as a new disciplinary code.

The new performance evaluation system will replace the Performance Management Development System (PMDS), which used a scale of one to five.

Mr Watt said the old system did not work, while the disciplinary code was "unwieldy" as it took 64 steps before an employee could be disciplined and dismissed. He said this had been streamlined and an underperformer would be given an improvement plan. If they didn't deliver, he said there was a "clear exit path".

Streamlined

Mr Watt said the old system did not work, while the disciplinary code was "unwieldy" as it took 64 steps before an employee could be disciplined and dismissed. He said this had been streamlined and an underperformer would be given an improvement plan. If they didn't deliver, he said there was a "clear exit path".

"We do know that we have a problem with performance, managing underperformance in particular, and we committed to doing a number of things," he said. "We issued a number of changes to the disciplinary code to make it easier for us to dismiss people who aren't performing and developed a formal link between underperformance and disciplinary policy." He said the new system would involve a culture change.

However, Minister Donohoe said it was unlikely that they would be sanctioned by demotion. "I've not come across anybody yet whose level of performance meant demotion was a prospect they would face," he said. He said there had been "solid progress" on issues in the plan but admitted there was often room for improvement.

Irish Independent

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