Public service economists 'should challenge views'

 

The Department of Public Expenditure should ensure that economists it employs to support its work should not only have technical expertise but have the ability to question conventional wisdom, a think tank has argued.

The new group, PublicPolicy.ie, has asserted that the department should actively encourage the economists it hires to challenge views so as to prevent the kind of failures to identify banking and sovereign crashes that happened in Ireland and elsewhere from 2008.

The think-tank features prominent academics and public figures and is supported by Atlantic Philanthropies, the fund founded by Irish-American billionaire Chuck Feeney.

Among the prominent UCD academics on its board is the authority on climate change Prof Frank Convery (who chairs the board); former professor of economics Brendan Walsh; and Prof Peter Clinch, former economic adviser to then taoiseach Brian Cowen.

Former senator Joe O’Toole is also on the board, as is Bride Rosney, former special adviser to Mary Robinson. Its director is Dónal de Buitleár.