Tuesday 21 November 2017

Civil servants lose 'closed shop' power

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

CIVIL servants have lost control of the high-powered group in charge of top-level appointments as part of a Government plan to end the "closed shop".

Previously, senior positions in the civil service were decided by a body consisting of four senior civil servants and one private sector person.

The success rate for private sector applicants going for senior positions over the past five years was just 0.3pc.

But the Cabinet has approved plans for a new Top Level Appointments Committee, which will see the four civil service members outnumbered by five members from the private sector.

And the chair of the committee will no longer be a civil servant -- it will be one of the private sector members.

The Government is planning to keep at least one third of senior civil service jobs for people in the private sector with specialised expertise.

In the past five years, there were 314 applicants from the private sector for 82 high-ranking jobs in the civil service.

But the only one to succeed was former Indecon economist Robert Watt who was appointed as assistant secretary at the Department of Finance -- and he had worked for the department in the past.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said the Government was now committed to reforming the public sector "from the top down".

The committee will be responsible for appointing people to the top three ranks in Government departments: secretary general, deputy secretary and assistant secretary.

However, some high-level posts are still decided upon by the Government -- such as secretary general to the Department of Finance.

Irish Independent

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