Credit -- but only where it is due
When we are faced with a full-blown national crisis, where the business-as-usual model is no longer affordable or sustainable, then we must adopt a different approach. The words are those of Brian Cowen, speaking as Taoiseach early last year about efficiency in the public service, but they could have been said by any Taoiseach in the past 25 years.
For all that time -- and probably longer -- experts have produced reports and governments have introduced efficiency schemes but the bureaucracy has responded with breathtaking cynicism. The low point was probably the "performance-related pay scheme," which ended up giving everyone a bonus for supposedly superior performance.
The old salts in the public service who have seen crises come and go would like to wait this one out, as they have done the others. But things are different this time.