Thursday 22 February 2018

Public servants 'have never worked harder'

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

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

CIVIL and public servants have never worked harder, according to the leading official at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Productivity has increased right across the public sector in recent years, the department's secretary general Robert Watt told the Dail's spending watchdog.

He made the comments while defending the department's record on driving change and improving work practices across the sector.

"Everywhere had been on a diet, everywhere has been starved of resources. But I think you'll find improvements right across the system," he told the Dail's Public Accounts Committee.

When questioned by Fine Gael committee member John Deasy, Mr Watt said there was no area of the public sector he would identify as being less productive now. He cited the areas of education, health and the gardai as three examples of increase productivity.

"We have reduced the cost to the Irish taxpayer. The subvention that goes to the third-level sector is way down and the number of students they are producing and the number of enrollments has gone way up," said Mr Watt.

"If you look at the health system, we know the cost of the system has come down, but there has been increased activity."

The secretary general also said that although garda numbers were down, new rostering arrangements meant that they were 20pc to 25pc more visible on the streets at the weekends.

"Right across the system we can see that we have downsized quite dramatically and yet we are providing more services for more people all the time," he said.

Irish Independent

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