Public sector candidate expected to get Cardiff post in finance department

 

THE GOVERNMENT’S choice of a successor to Kevin Cardiff as secretary general of the Department of Finance is now expected to come from within the public service.

With morale in the department extremely low as a result of the economic crisis and the controversy over Mr Cardiff’s departure, appointing an outsider is being viewed within the Government as a risky strategy.

Appointing an external candidate to “shake up” the department would serve only to further demoralise staff, according to one source familiar with the process.

The €200,000 cap on public pay is also said to be inhibiting applications from suitably qualified people working in the private sector, particularly outside Ireland.

The original field of 21 applicants included three from the private sector and a number of overseas applications.

At least four people from Ireland and abroad were head-hunted by recruitment specialists to be interviewed for the post, which falls vacant when Mr Cardiff moves to the European Court of Auditors in March.

The recruitment process, which includes the creation of a shortlist and up to two rounds of interviews, is being run by the Top Level Appointments Committee (TLAC). Five of the committee’s nine members, including chairwoman Maureen Lynott, are from the private sector. The position was openly advertised on publicjobs.ie with a closing date of November 24th. However, the process was delayed by uncertainty over Mr Cardiff’s move to the court in Luxembourg after his nomination by the Government was rejected by the European Parliament’s budget control committee last November.

Last month, however, his application was approved by a plenary session of the parliament, thereby clearing the way for the Government to recruit a new secretary general. Mr Cardiff’s nomination still has to be ratified by the European Council shortly, but this is seen as a formality.

The €200,000 salary is in line with the Government cap on salaries across the public sector. Reports that the cap would be lifted to attract the right candidate were described as speculative at this stage by sources within the public sector.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Expenditure said the process was ongoing.

No expenses were paid for candidates travelling to Dublin to be interviewed for the position. Applicants were asked to supply a CV, a list of “key achievements”, an organisation chart showing their current position within senior management and a two-page statement outlining why they should be considered for the post.

After a shortlist was drawn up, those on it were invited to a competitive preliminary interview and were required to complete a questionnaire online.