Evaluation service to boost departmental expertise


THE IRISH Government Economic and Evaluation Service was set up yesterday by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

The unit is designed to improve the quality of expertise across Government departments. Areas where skills gaps exist include information and communications technology, human resources, project management, accountancy and economics, according to the department.

It will support the various departments in evaluating policy and expenditure options; value-for-money exercises; cost benefit and regulatory impact analyses; and regulatory and competition issues.

On the unveiling of the service, Mr Howlin said: “A key element of Ireland’s economic recovery and future development is the quality of future policy development. The purpose of the new service is to support better policy-making across the system, through enhanced economic and policy analysis expertise.”

The Irish civil service model has traditionally depended on staff with generalist skills rather than recruiting specialists or encouraging staff to deepen sectoral expertise. The weakness of the generalist model was identified as a contributing factor in various reports into the credit bubble and the banking crisis it caused.

It is envisaged the new unit will initially recruit 20 to 30 staff. The department said postgraduate staff with economic qualifications will be targeted through an Administrative Officer competition already under way.