Friday 24 November 2017

Senior civil servants face review of work for first time

Martin Fraser
Martin Fraser

Donal O'Donovan and Niall O'Connor

The country's most senior civil servants will have their work reviewed for the first time from next year, in a reform that ends decades of autonomy for the once all-powerful department chiefs.

The new regime will see the work of secretaries general, who head up government departments, reviewed. This will be done by the head of the service, Martin Fraser, the head of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), Robert Watt, and an outside expert.

The reviews will focus on how well officials have progressed against annual targets agreed with ministers. The process won't affect pay but consistent failures to hit targets could see disciplinary action.

The new process is a departure from historic practice that effectively left the heads of each government department to operate in isolation. An internal disciplinary code and new corporate governance structures are also being put in place.

An initiative to pool human resources, payroll and payment structure across the civil service into a single National Shared Service Office will generate savings of around €50m a year.

The new unit will cost around €30m to establish and take four to five years to be operational.

Mr Watt said he would like to see a portion of civil servants' pay linked to performance, but admitted any structure seen to include a bonus element will not be introduced in the near term. He said he would also like to see the number of civil service grades reduced.

Irish Independent

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