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Sunday 15 September 2019

Departments reject allegations of inefficiency

Speech to be scrutinised: Secretary general Robert Watt. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Speech to be scrutinised: Secretary general Robert Watt. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne-Marie Walsh

Government departments have hit back at remarks by a senior public servant about alleged "inefficiencies" during a speech highlighting "nonsense and waste" in the public service.

Secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Robert Watt said there was a lack of leadership and ambition and pointed to examples of inefficient practices in a speech last week.

He said the system of verifying passport application forms "where the guards pretend to know you" does not make sense.

Mr Watt said there was absolutely no reason why motorists who are not elderly should have to renew their driving licence every 10 years.

The Department of Foreign Affairs rejected his analysis of the Garda passport verification system. A spokesperson said the comments "do not reflect the considerable amount of work that has gone into streamlining the passport process".

She said the witnessing of applications by gardaí has been an important element of identity verification and combating fraud.

Mr Watt's comments on the role of gardaí are likely to be scrutinised by Government figures as he is being tipped in some circles as a potential candidate for the role of Garda commissioner.

Meanwhile, when asked why drivers had to renew their licences every 10 years, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport indicated that its hands were tied due to EU legislation.

Irish Independent

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