Group to identify 'non essential' public sector jobs

 

A special group to identify posts and activities that are "not essential" in the Public Sector is to be set up by the Government.

And the performance of all staff in all sectors of the Public Service is to be assessed, including teachers, nurses and gardai.

The establishment of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes was announced this evening by the Government as part of its Transforming Public Services Programme.

The programme is based on recommendations made in a report on the Taskforce on the Public Service, also published today.

The Special Group will examine each Government Department and recommend programmes for reductions in expenditure. It will identify posts and activities that are not essential in all parts of the Public Service and will recommend reallocation of staffing or expenditure resources between public service organisations. It will also recommend further rationalisation of State Agencies beyond those set out in the Budget, which targeted 41 state bodies for amalgamation or closure.

Public sector procurement will also be tackled. The Government intends to establish a National Operations Unit (NOU) within the Office of Public Works to allow all central Government Departments and offices, agencies and non-commercial bodies to acquire a range of goods and services more efficiently and at better value for money.

The NOU will offer professional procurement advice to the Public service and will

develop web-based e-tenders and e-auctions for some goods and services. Staff at the unit will be redeployed from existing resources.

A more focussed system of value for money reviews targeting areas of significant spending in Health, Education, Social Welfare and Justice will also be introduced.

The Government has said managers and staff will have to gain new skills, adjust to new work practices and be accountable in new ways.

The performance management system in the Civil Service and Local Government Sector is also to be strengthened, and performance assessments will be introduced in all areas of the Public Service where none exist, initially targeted at tackling underperformance.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the measures will effect fundamental change and transformation of public services.

"The objective of the Government is to secure greater efficiency in delivering public services in an affordable way - while at the same time improving the work environment for public service workers," he said.

"Securing greater flexibility in the face of the need for change, not least through harnessing the power of technology to best effect, are key to that objective."

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said the Public Service was not some huge bureaucratic machine.

"I deplore the kind of demonisation of the Public Service that has featured in public debate over recent months," he said.

"We need to move away from this shallow criticism and knee-jerk reactions, which are not helpful to our economy and are damaging social cohesion."