Business Irish

Monday 19 February 2018

Civil service 'needs more specialists in its ranks'

Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt
Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

IRELAND's civil service has been too generalist and more specialists should be brought into its ranks, the head of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has said.

Robert Watt said a theme of the Government's reform of the public service is that more expertise is recruited in areas such as HR, economics, accounting and procurement.

And much more money must be spent on training and developing staff, he told the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA).

"The civil service went too much in the direction of the generalist model and moved away from the specialising model, and we need to be respecialising in a variety of areas," he said.

The Government unveiled the second phase of its ambitious public service reform plan in January, highlighting that the public service pay bill had been reduced from a peak of €17.5bn in 2009 to €14.1bn last year.

Mr Watt said progress has been made in the civil service in recent years, with productivity increased.

He said public spending, as a percentage of income, will have been reduced to 2004/2005 levels within the next two years.

He said a more mature discussion was needed in both Oireachtas debates and the media about failings within the public service. "Rather than turning it into a witch-hunt, a 'gotcha' culture, we need to move to an accountability culture, which involves learning from the mistakes. How can we do better," he said.

And Mr Watt said the civil service spends too little on training and development. "We need to invest more in our people," he said.

Irish Independent

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