I wouldn’t restrict such criticism to the department of Finance.
It has annoyed me much over the years, listening to our politicians describing the Civil Service in Ireland. Invariably they describe them as capable, brilliant, hard working, dedicated, intelligent, etc . This is the permanent government that since the foundation of the state has took us from one disastrous policy to another.
The real reform needed in Ireland is the complete reorganisation of the Civil Service, and the wholesale replacement from Assistant Principles Officer up with outsiders with real world international experience.
You’re reminding me of mortgagebroker talking about the genuine expertise in Irish Banks, etc.
See how that worked out?
EDIT: Permanent Government is a load of shite aswell! These people live and these people die, they’re not fucking immortals and they’re subjected in the last 20 years anyway to a rigorous level of examination to enter the Service in the first instance and then genuinely on merit, accede to the higher levels. There’s much more accountability there then in probably any other organisation, I have to laugh… The people who deride the Civil Service generally have a hard on for the European Commission, which at the top levels has a genuinely less transparent and open approach to recruitment.
His point is more that these guys make a career out of it, while ministers come and go. My dad still laughs recalling the sheer lack of respect in the air in the DoE for a new incoming minister, and how the perception was that he was just there to rubberstamp things. Doubt it’s changed any since.
OK but from a systems point of view it would be a very good place to start. As the article points out these guys control so much of what is happening in the PS and they do it in a very centralised fashion. From my perspective one of the chief problems in the PS is the taking of decisions at too high a level.
FFS. I quoted a man who worked 25 years in the DoE and was unconvinced at the end of it that ministers had any relevant power whatsoever compared to the service structure. To which your argument, not untypically of you, is ‘balltrox’.
I wonder if you think that Yes Minister is merely TV satire have you worked in a Government Department? Few Ministers make their own policy. McCreevy was an occasional exception (cutting of cgt) and later moving the mandarin responsible for arguing agonist him out of the Department. But in general these guys simply make the Ministers believe it was his idea. In addition as we know the top job in the Central Bank has always gone to a senior DoF official making them doubly culpable. There is a serious lack of economics expertise with a very few honourable exceptions. Work practises are completely outdated and the focus on grade more akin to a 19th century bank then to any modern organisation.
Yes of course the dangers of hierarchical organisational structures are well-known and need to be considered in any PS review but in addition to the hierarchical structure reporting to a Minister (e.g. Environment, say) you have the cross-cutting diktats and reporting requirements from Finance. This in my view compounds the problems and hence is a good place to start any review.
Not only is it counter-productive but as is outlined in the DoF self assessment document (cited in the article and dealt with in another thread here), DoF struggle under the weight of their micro-management load. An example I recall was they were re-writing submissions from other depts because they felt the depts couldn’t write them to the (DoFs) required standard.
How about Peter Hennessy as a source. He does more to confirm rather than deny the truth of Yes Minister as a very perceptive satire on how government works. A capable minister can drive a dept but not too many of those so the norm is for the dept and its secretariat to drive the minister.
Indeed, particularly as the key decisions during the Bertie years were all taken through the Partnership process, led by the Department of the Taoiseach. Finance were not in the driving seat, despite their Walter Mitty self assessment where they seem to think they had a level of power exceeded only by the Stonecutters.
Its actually a bit comical to see them coming out with all this blather and then being held to account over it.
“By our brilliant macroeconomic management (despite us not actually having any control of the macroeconomy since we joined the euro) we have had unparalleled economic growth”
“Hmm, so presumably you’re also the reason why now its stopped.”
If the private sector in Ireland was much better, we never would have had to become so dependent on FDI. People need to be realistic about how much skill exists in our private sector. An Irish soldier with a few peacekeeping tours under his belt has more meaningful experience of the world than the former Dell Deputy Assistant Head of Global Box Shifting for the EMEA Region.