Forfás to be abolished

Cabinet agrees legislation to merge enterprise advisory body’s functions with Department of Jobs


Legislation abolishing the enterprise advisory board Forfás and merging many of its functions with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will be published today.

Richard Bruton, the responsible Minister, received Cabinet approval last Tuesday for the move to dissolve the quango, which has a staff of about 90. The aim of the move is to strengthen the department’s capacity to drive job-creation policy.

The integration will lead to the creation of a new strategic policy division within the department. Forfás staff will form the core of this division.

Since Mr Bruton took office, Forfás – which was established in 1994 – has become increasingly involved in the central policy-making process in the department, playing a leading role in the development and implementation of the action plan for jobs.

The move forms part of a broader reform programme Mr Bruton is implementing across his department and its agencies. Among the other elements of the plan are:
l the merger of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority;
l the reform of the five workplace relations bodies into two organisations;
l restructuring the enterprise support model for micro and small businesses, including the dissolution of the 35 county and city enterprise boards and the creation of the new local enterprise offices;
l and restructuring transport and enterprise development bodies in the Shannon region.

Action plan
A source close to the Minister said yesterday that Forfás chief executive Martin Shanahan and his team had made a major contribution to building momentum in job creation over the past two years, with the action plan now helping to deliver more than 1,200 additional jobs a week.

“The Minister’s view is that to sustain and build on this we must continue a relentless drive across Government on jobs and competitiveness. Integrating Forfás into the Department of Jobs and creating a strong strategic policy division will improve our ability to drive new reforms in competitiveness and employment policies and create the jobs we need,” the source said.

“This also forms part of a broader programme of reform and agency rationalisation that the Minister is putting in place, with over 40 bodies earmarked for merger or abolition in the near future,” he added.

Not all of the staff are going to the department. Some will be transferred to Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland while others will move to the Irish National Accreditation Board and the Health and Safety Authority as their functions are being subsumed into those bodies.

Some Forfás staff transferring to the department will go there as civil servants, or as fixed-term employees.