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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 12, 2011 @ 10:58 am

    Crying need for Public Sector reform

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    I’ve no time for those who routinely bash the public sector which has done this country proud in many ways, but clearly reforms are needed – quite shocking that, as Eddie Molloy said on the Pat Kenny show this morning, out of 82 senior civil service jobs advertised externally, only one was filled by an outside candidate, who was a former civil servant anyway.

    • robespierre says:

      I have worked across the public and private sector for years as a management consultant. The incentive to be “great” is absent in the public sector. The incentive to be “good” or better is better understood by the market.

      There are many disengaged public sector workers who can’t or won’t be fired to stop a fuss or industrial action from occuring.

      The McCarthy report which I have read a few times is (clearly) very much based on expenditure numbers and makes a decent fist of identifying excessive resourcing from budgets. Any holistic approach to tackling the public sector will (I expect) be like shooting fish in a barrel.

      Priorities should be:
      Freeze pay and open-ended redundancy schemes to replace costly senior administrative staff on new terms and conditions at a lower grade.
      Implement comprehensive service agreements across all bodies that are productivity based.
      Conduct internal and external productivity benchmarking to assess headcount utilisation.
      Start pooling back-office resources in regional clusters under framework agreements.
      Leverage outsourcing to provide non-core services.

      This is how you start to build flexibility into an organisation.

      Once that has happened you can further improve productivity through measurement and process re-design (automation etc…).
      Undo some stupid decisions like stopping social welfare payments to accounts and implement something useful like PPS sharing between social welfare and the revenue commission.

      There are a raft of things you could do from discontinuing the army to enforcing the state to use its own land and buildings. All require consideration and examination.

    • Dave Dublin says:

      The public service should not be treated as a ‘special case’. Not in terms of flexibility and service delivery, not in terms of pay, not in terms of contracts, and not in terms of pensions. The privileges and unrealistic pay levels which the public service has gathered for itself through threats and bullying over the decades has created a two tier society, one which is very much resented.

      All the more so now that we have to go cap in hand to the IMF for 50bn simply to fund it. And the public service has as usual protected itself through the Croke Park Agreement. Their Achilles Heel though, is their unwillingness, and inability, to deliver either the change or the savings needed.

      A novel idea? Only those actually necessary to the running of the state to be considered public servants, all others to be considered service providers and treated as such. And do we really need electricity sales companies, gas companies, turf companies, tree growing businesses and – God help us – a TV and radio station – on the state’s books? Even if we could afford them?


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