Revenue Commissioners get off their A**es shocker!

I of course was not saying all are rubbish, just some.

My point was it would be better to either have an internal competition across the Depts and eEvenue take the best, or an open comp and take some good new staff.

@ Txirimiri

I am delighted that some public service workers are gaining enhanced qualifications, some of which may even be relevent to their work, may have been payed for by the public and may even enhance the service to the public. When I started this thread, based on a report in the newspapers which resonated with my experience, it was not to knock every public servant.

I have worked in the public service and some family members still do. It has been and is apparent that since the foundation of the state, the public service has been stuffed with useless apointees, many of whom it would have been better if they had just taken the money and stayed at home, rather than come to work and make the job more difficult for those trying to actually get the job done. Some of these 'public servants have been venal and even corrupt and have acted against the interests of the state. Little or no action has been taken against these individuals and many have been ‘promoted’ into positions where they can play more golf and do less damage.

If you work in the public service, and are a ‘worker’, you will know exactly what I mean. If you are a drone, you will take this as an attack on all public sector workers.

As I have had to re-iterate, it is apparent that because of the fiscal constraints that the government finds itself in, pressure has been brought to bear on the revenue commissioners to increase the tax take. This has included the scrutiny of legimitate taxpayers as pointed out by Open Window, but has also resulted in many tax evaders being investigated and brought to book. This is to be applauded, but the questions still remains, Why wasn’t this done before now? Who was responsible for allowing a culture of tax evasion to thrive? Was there any political interference with the revenue commissioners in the past?

If the government can put pressure on the revenue commissioners to increase tax take, was pressure put on them in the past to turn a blind eye?

Easy there.

Noone’s saying any of that. And you know well what happens when a department or project looks for “surplus” people in any large organisation – every manager uses it as an excuse to get rid of their crap performers.

My wife works in a public sector job, and there is one particular woman who is traded from department to department like the booby prize in a particular bad country fair. Managers seem to have conversations along the lines of “OK, I’ll lend you two admin staff for a couple of months, but you have to take Derpina off me for a year.” The woman has literally been found hiding in a storage closet for extended periods of time to avoid work. She is completely un-fireable, due to her strong union.

Any special project looking for staff is going to attract people like that. The only solution is to dump the poor staff and hire new, good ones. Which means de-fanging the unions.

I don’t think the fact that, when an organisation is under severe financial pressure, it focuses forensically on bringing in income and cutting costs is surprising, nor does it imply that previously it was turning a blind eye. Keep in mind the fact that during the boom, the government was taking in billions more in tax each year than it had forecast and earmarked for expenditure. In that environment, I expect the RC focused most on ensuring that their service provision was scaled up efficiently to meet the consistent significant increases in taxpayer numbers and tax turnover. In the current climate, I imagine their priority is shifting towards compliance and that that is where their energy and personnel are currently being directed.

Second point is, the fact that you read in the MMS that the RC are ‘going after xyz group’ is almost certainly more a feature of government press advisor marketing/spin/pr/whatever you want to call it than a detailed analysis by the journalist of the current focus of the RC’s work in comparison to their work 5 years ago. I work in an section which, amongst other things, provides funding to organisations to carry out certain services. 5 years ago, the speaking points and press releases that we wrote for the Minister/Minister of State were all about largesse - how much the government was increasing spend. Now, they are all about accountability - how the government is ensuring results, measuring impact, monitoring audit and accountability functions. There have been various favourable press articles since the new crowd got in about how the FG/Labour government is ‘tightening up procedures’ and ‘focusing rigorously on results’. Frankly, the only thing that has changed are the speaking points and the Q & A that we write. We have always focused on accountability and results. Procedures were always tight. We have always tried to measure impact. This is despite the fact that no Minister I have ever worked for has struck me as being more interested in impact and efficiency than they are in the clientelist/PR possibilities of what we do - and that won’t change until the STV multi-seat constituency changes. Try convincing a Minister that a budget cut is a good time to do a root and branch review of the number of agencies funded, with a view to looking for efficiencies of scale and independence research-evidence of results, instead of just dividing a smaller pie amongst the same agencies, so everyone gets less but still gets something. Its frustratingly impossible.

I couldn’t agree more. The job for life culture is damaging to the civil service and the sooner it goes the better.

However, the same Pinsters that argue for this also argue for a 50% cut to PS wages. You can’t do both and end up with a competent and efficient service.

However, you won’t seriously improve performance of the system as a whole, as opposed to improving the performance of individuals, until you remove the strong incentive for Ministers to keep the civil service non-transparent and relatively inefficient in order for them to be seen to individually deliver for their individual constituents. Firing the maybe 5% of seriously sub-standard civil servants and keeping the multi-seat STV system will do precisely nothing for the health of the Irish public service.

There are large parts of the public service where there are no rewards for doing a good job and no consequences for doing a bad one. It’s definitely bad for morale to see those who are working hard getting exactly the same rewards as those who are doing very little. It’s actually a tribute to the honesty and good intentions of the great majority of people that they will do a good job despite sharing the office with someone who does little or no work, resulting in more work for his/her colleagues. I think this is true of both the public and private sector. The private sector also has its share of useless staff who should have been sacked long ago, and are a burden on their co-workers.

The problem is, of course, that the public is extremely hostile to good people in the public sector being rewarded, and the union leaders are extremely hostile to bad public servants being punished. I guess that even the union leaders understand that they are defending the indefensible, but they are afraid that giving any ground would be the thin end of the wedge. To be fair, public servants who are found to be involved in some sort of wrongdoing (unauthorized access to private records, sexual harassment, bullying, etc.) are often punished. But there doesn’t seem to be a punishment for just not trying very hard, or simply being unable to do the job.

The advantage of cutting public service pay is that you get double savings. First you get to pay your staff less. Second a lot of your good people leave and you save their salaries entirely. This is what happened in UCD when the promotions freeze was introduced and a whole bunch of their lecturers left and got better jobs abroad. Losing your good staff can be a problem in terms of delivering a service, but it does save money.

The Dept of Public Expenditure and Reform seem to be on the ball. They are taking some of the best staff from other depts. They are making genuine reforms. Slowly, yes, but the wheels are turning. For example:

Moving to Shared Services for many functions like HR and Payroll

Reducing paid sick leave levels

Reducing and removing some allowances

Moving staff from weekly to fortnightly pay periods

Moving other staff from fortnightly to monthly pay periods

I can see them also attempting to tackle the scurge of how to get rid of rotten staff. They must tip toe this topic. They must show to the union they mean only to get rid of absolute poisonous staff who don’t work and dishearten their colleagues who work hard.

A new mechanism, made as simple as possible, should be put in place to go from A to Z of firing such staff. Key to this will the the unions signing off on it in advance. This can be done in this climate. To not do so would be a major lost opportunity.

Actually, I wrote that, not that it matters.

Agreed. I think the frustration comes from the huge inefficiency and waste of the beast as a whole. Personally, I have no problem paying well-qualified and well-performing public servants even more than we currently do, as long as well can get rid of the ones who are not performing.

I agree that the job for life should go. Personally I think that a rolling 5-year (or maybe 3-year) contract would be a good idea. i.e. once you complete a meaningful probabationary period you have a 5-year contract. After a year and an assessment of your work which says that all is in order you continue to have 5-years and so on if you do what is expected of you. If however you are red-flagged you go to 4-years and so unless you retrieve matters etc. or possibly transfer to a lower grade where you are more capable of performing well.