Reform of quangos by politicians just not happening
And the new water authority is the most serious example of Government backtracking on change, writes Colm McCarthy
In the Budget for 2009, delivered in October 2008, more than five years ago, the then government committed itself to a programme of reforming how the Irish State operates. There were simply too many State agencies at national, regional and local level. Aside from cost, the duplication of effort and competition between agencies was a hindrance to orderly public administration.
The current Government entered office after the February 2011 election and committed itself to an intensified spring-cleaning of the administrative structures. It has now become clear that the commitment of the Irish political system to structural reform is uneven at best and singularly absent in numerous areas. There has been no cull of the quangos.
The report of An Bord Snip, released in July 2009, listed a total of 870 Exchequer-funded quangos at local level. The list may have been incomplete, but included 42 Citizen Information Centres, 59 Money Advice and Budgeting Centres, 182 Community Development Projects, 107 Family Resources Centres, 60 Local Partnership and LEADER companies, 41 Community Training Centres, 330 Community Service Projects, 16 Volunteer Centres and 33 County Childcare Committees. The cost was €350m per annum at the time. No doubt many of these bodies do valuable work but it is simply impossible to identify which ones, in the absence of any coherent governance structure. The report recommended the wholesale rationalisation of these activities into a far smaller number of operating units which would enable proper supervision and oversight.