Indepth look at FG's 'Reinventing Government' document

civilserpant

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There's a lot of good, and a lot of bad. Here's my attempt at seeing where the balance lies. I'm a HEO in the civil service, frustrated with how the system runs, but also at hypocrits like John McGuinness & Harris, who made ridiculous statements from their grandstanding podiums, without ever really looking at the responsibilities of their colleagues in creating the system they so rail against.

Section A:
Halve size of Dept of Taoiseach - turning into a cabinet office (a lot of merit).
- (26) nothing scary in the detail.

New skilled staff into DoFinance - depends. The problem with DoF is only a small bit due to lack of economists (etc), but the real issue is the DoF isn't focused on what the DoF should be focused on. It spends way too much time on irrelevant surveys, data collection etc. If new economists (etc) are taken on, they have to be employed in the right areas, targetting the right sector - NOT bloody Interreg oversights.
- (27) whats needed here is 3 year current multi-annual budgets (ah, pg 52)
- Director of Budget, Taxation and Economic Division (for under 200k remember) with handpicked team ~ fair enough, new experts are needed, even though seemingly none of Irelands top 20 economists can seem to agree between them on the right approach.
- Office of Public Spending and Modernisation. The duties given here are already carried out by DoF, bar the dangerous bidding for money bit.
- Merging SPD & PSMD under one unit, with new staff is good, but the expectations are ridiculous.


Appointment above PO level open/reserved: I've no problem with open recruitment, but theres currently a recruitment freeze... but this is a key issue when cross referenced with what comes later...

Corp Governance... nothing of substance here. Vague.

Section B:
Public Service Agreements: Like BvB said, waffle. Pointless form filing that serves no real practical benefit. Big waste of time.

Annual (PMDS) objectives of 1,300 POs(upwards) online: Even bigger waste of time. So what? Who cares? To what purpose? Bureacratic hogwash. The amount of time wasted on business plans, statement strategies ALREADY is part of the problem. This just adds to it.

Agency Boards: The idea behind this is excellent. Some of the agencies listed though... I don't think FG understand what many of them do, or that they don't have paid boards.

Whistleblowers Act: Absolutely essential. Well done.

Fixed Term Contracts for Sec gens/Chairs: V good idea. Currently Sec Gens have a 7 year contract, unless the Dept is re-constituted. But the real goal here is the 3 years CEO contract. But I would caution, while having Roddy Molloy ona 3 year contract and easier to sack is the headline, so to is the negative of finding it hard to get top quality CEOs to join (quit other jobs) on a 3 year contract.
- (43), TLAC replaced by a CTLAP madeup of a majorty of members outside the public service and power to appoint Sec Gens. Doesn't the Government appoint Sec Gens to carry out the PfG? Not sure about this. A bunch of business peple appointing the new head of Revenue?
- (45), confront continued non-performance through dismissal ~ Overdue.

Section C: Budget
Fiscal Council: Has merit... depending on what power it has. If just another sop, then forget it.

Depts publishing pre-budget wants: Very uncomfortable with this. The Cabinet ar emeant to decide this, Minister have to argue for whats needed, in the privacy of cabinet. This will get very messy. A Gov publishes a PFG. Depts implement the PFG. Depts don't 'bid' for the work!!! Thats a Governments decison to prioritise.

Cost-benefit Analysis: Isnt this meant to be done anyway? Cost benefit & RIA?

PO over 20K online: Why? To suit journalists? Pointless.

C&AG: No point giving powers to carry out audits if, like currently, they're just used for embarrassing the Gov rather than forcing change, then pointless - see Ombudsman report on the Fahy boat scheme for example of oversight powerlessness. A good idea if the C&AG are given enforcement powers.

Section D:
Rationalising core-processes: All good.

Routine tasks automated: hahahahaha. This made me laugh. Stupidest lines in the document. 'As service delivery is devolved to the frontline, we will reduce the number of civil servants working in a policy-making Depts by a third (from about 17,000)'. What is christs name are FG suggesting? I work in a policy dept. The work can't be automated. Its not form processing, its not welfare payments, or revenue collection. Its POLICY. I have no idea how the two ideas relate???? That's 5,500 approx jobs. Aside from policy, I spend vast chunks of time on pqs, reps, foi and central reporting on budgets - that cant be automated.


Reduce bodies by 145: MOst of these changes made sense, but some of these bodies have no paid board members or staff. Thus, no savings. I can't give examples without exposing my job, but theres a few I copped immeidately. I'm sure theres many more.

Eliminate non-priority programmes: Common sense. Good.

Irish Water: Sounds good.

Merge ESB Networks and Eirgrid: Excellent. Its essential the networks remains in state control. Never should an Eircom happen again. Selling off the retail legs, fine - as lnog as the money is invested wisely, as per the new Era proposals.

Coillte & BnM: Meh, whatever...

Merge state telecoms: Makes perfect sense BUT this was looked at before and wasn[t doable, or at least, the wer e alot more obsticles than a lack of political will.

Section E:
First Steps: Sounds good, but vague statements are useless.

Social Investment Bonds: ????? bit waffley..

Section F:
Schools reports: Sounds like a league. Didnt Labour trying this in the UK? Not against this, in reality, parents do this slready, no point burying head in the sand.

Parent choice: Giving power to parents over who manages schools has value if it makes school less denominational.

Training Vouchers: Has merit (innovative) but needs more fleshing out. Promising.

FAS dismantled: Needed.

Money follow patient: The idea of a patient being a source of funding rather than a drain has been examined before in the health proposals. Makes a lot of sense.

Personal Care Budgets: dont know enough to comment.

fixmystreet.ie: Ok, not a bad idea at all, but the guarantee that a local official will respond in 2 working days wont ever happen. Theres a seperation between local and national government. If it takes away the clientalism of people first going to their cllrs/TDs, thens its a GREAT idea.

Section G:

Devolved authoriy: Agencies can't be trusted. They all try to budget maximise, the more staff/money, the more important they feel they are. Staff levels in particular wil explode. Sadly, the corrollary of this is my earlier point about the DoF. One of the jobs they spend a lot of time on is monitoring staffing levels and requestsfor funding for new agency staff processed by parents depts. If this *could* be made work, it would free up capacity along the line depts.

Hospital Trusts: Sounds like something from Casualty, but when taken in tandem with The patient funding envelope, I'm willing to look positively.

School Principal discretion: Hmmmm. No probelm in theory, but will tis really lead to change/efficiencies? School principals, in my experience, were senior teaching staff. They have little/no experience of managing budgets.

Sector H:
Cap of 200K. Will affect not one civil servant (http://www.finance.gov.ie/documents/circulars/circular2009/circ282009.pdf Sec Gen pay is €188k - none of them joined post 1995, which has a 198k pay). Hits the Ministers and TD Ex-Ministers, the CEOs/Chairs of many state agencies, HSE (abolished) and many consultants in the health services. Harney already failed to see these pressure groups down, hard to see FG/Lab being able to do it. Expect to see this rolled back in many areas.

RBonHR: Fair enough, no big deal.

Abolish Senate: Referendum and cut number of TDs. Ok.

Car Pool: No objections.

"The result sees public servants trapped in a system that doesn not make use of their talents, but sees them vilified by the media, politicians, and the oublic for policies and practices that they did not create and have control over.

It is Ministers who have failed in their responsibilities. It is they who failed to overhaul the system, who allowed it become wasteful and inefficient, unfocused and excessively micromanaged. It is tyhey who failed to ensure the talents and abilities of irish Civil servants are used."
Hear, hear. Bang on.

the Croke Park Agreement is not working yet. The flexibility and redeployment provisions are important steps forward, but there is no compelling vision for how the public sector should change. A paralysed government has not come to the table with any agenda of radical change.
Exactly right. The Unions have been getting, unfairly for once, pilloried for the lack of movement, when they've been waiting for a set of proposals from the Government. Dara Colleary has produced nothing, instead, asking each individual dept to come up with ideas. Its ludicrous!

From reading this, expect FG to launch a 2nd republic in 2016 - a renewal... You heard it here.

Continuing to read down through the policies. The suggestion that Ministers should attend their MAC meeting is welcomed. The management of deots is pretty much currently done by the Sec Gens under direction from unelected FF/Green backroom hacks known as 'special/policy advisors'. A look at who these people are, cllrs or failed cllrs, should send shivers down your spine. But its never, ever, debated here or in the political media. Its shocking. If these people don't approve of something, the Minister never sees it. A farce.

Pg30: What is 'central Gov Depts'? FG have not defined what are these routine administrative processes that should be outsourced. As it is, its just a bland, vague statement.

Co-location of related Departments? In a decentralised environment?? How? This is daft. Energy effects DCENR & Environment. You can't put them next door to each other.

Senor Public Service: As suggested in the OECD report.

Skills Stream: Daft. Daft. Daft. The numbers of Ao/AP/PO/Ass Secs involved in what are defined as corporate services duties is about 1/6-1/8 of a dept. There is no need for an across the board skills stream. Upskilling of staff is always a good idea, but this is too narrowly focused and does not reflect the duties of these staff.

There are good ideas in the company law area - but they scream of 'the horse has bolted'. Still, thats not a reason they shouldn't be done now.

Merging the utility regulators is a good idea, assuming it brings efficiences (which didnt happen with HSE). Ditto a single competition appeals court. Cutting down on red tape.
- (34), Oireachtas given power to remove regulators.
- (34), Oireachtas given enquirey powers, last seen in DIRT. About time!
- (35), RIA before decision is taken - makes sense...
- (35), use Facebook to engage with stakehoders. Groan, stupid...
- (45), public servants power to give testimony to the Oireachtas. I'd welcome this, but it wil lead to an erosion of the Minister/Civil servant relationship. Will be a lot more arse covering.

- (45), all external correspondence to ministers on policy matters will be published on a website in two weeks ~ what!!!!!! This is an utter waste of time judging by the quality of the resp we get and a big administrative burden.

- (46), opengov.ie is a bad idea. Its another example of directing energy toards reporting what you're doing/saving/consuming - rather than getting on with DOING it. The amount of resources that will go into real time purchase orders for over 20k, along with details of the outlays, on the websites is a waste. Private sector companies dont waste their energies on such things.

- (55), carrying out McCarthy & thre Local Government Efficiency Review.
Centralising recruitment through the PAS is excellent, but conflicts with statements elsewhere about agency autonomy.

- (57), a one stop shop for Payments and Entitlements, sounds very idealistic, but very, very difficult to do with current legislation on data sharing. I dont see this happening. If they can manage it, hats off.

- (60), procurement professionals is long over due and should save a fortune. But equally important is a crack squad of legal contract prfessionals, rather than depts drafting their own and having to employ expensive, unaccountable, consultants.

- (69), the pre-school education concept, if borne out, could be exceptional. The challenge, as always, is to get (calling a spade a spade here) the sort of parents who doesnt believe/care or value an education to properly engage. A properly run early learning scheme, that can cut childcare costs (insurance!!!!), would be a massive improvement and pay long temr dividends.

- (70), reinstate preventative dental care - not sure waht it has to do with re-inventing government.. but anyways..

- (72), Gardai required (??) to inform public of geographic distribution of crime and detection rates? NOOOOOOOOOOO. Yet more reporting rather than doing. Bureacracy...

- (72), new educational governance, moving away from the Bishop to a more teacher/parent centric BoM. No info on how.... As with page 76, a big, surprising and welcomed, push by FG to opening up the system to new school patrons. Ivana Bacik will be delighted. The stanc eis unequivical.

- (72), online payment of court fine, driver licencing, student grants (etc). Yes, Yes, Yes. Like motor tax.ie, this can be done easily and well, assuming they fix the need for garda signiture. Big admin savings here.

- (76), cut CIE subsidy and open up bus routes to alternative providers and shared publicly owned bus stations. Long overdue. Goal is customer service, NOT CIE protection. Comparing to london is misleading though, london is a densely populated city with good supporting rail infrastructure.

- (78), SecGens having ultimate responsibility for appointments, is a bit worrying, unless this is clarified. If they mean responsibility for the process/numbers appointed fine, if they mean final say on who - then awful. All recruitment should be d0ne by the Public Appointment Service, with the SecGens/Depts indicationg what they need and the PAS finding a suitable candidate.

- (82), reduce the Dail by 20, reform Presidency (???), strengthen FOI (god no...). Theres no info given on how FG would revolutionise the process of law making???

- (83), FG are clear pension reform is another topic that will be set out later, but does give a commitment to cap tax-subsidisation on pension entitlements across the board, which is very, very welcomed.

And then theres the boards they'll merge. Some of which are bad mistakes and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the roles of the boards, or the cost savings, where as others make sense.

Summary:
Overal you've got the basis of a strong PfG here, but they'll relaise when in power that some of the suggestions are daft and/or unimplementable. While many of the savings come from cuts to bring efficiencies, they on the other hand go overboard with 'reporting' and bureaucratic form filling.

It will lead to public servants spending more and more time justifying what they are doing, then doing what the Government asked them to do.
 


Machdaddy

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im a co.and its lack of action from ur grades that the CPA was a sham.more efficiencies mean no need for management.the little man will always be hit first.hows about reducing top level management for a start.A policy department??As in whats the flavour of the month???You my friend are the problem.Overpaid for doing diddly squat.
"It will lead to public servants spending more and more time justifying what they are doing..." Well considering your on a minimum 50,000 per annum id like to know exactly what "policy" decisions justify your salary????
 

civilserpant

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im a co.and its lack of action from ur grades that the CPA was a sham.more efficiencies mean no need for management.the little man will always be hit first.hows about reducing top level management for a start.A policy department??As in whats the flavour of the month???You my friend are the problem.Overpaid for doing diddly squat.
"It will lead to public servants spending more and more time justifying what they are doing..." Well considering your on a minimum 50,000 per annum id like to know exactly what "policy" decisions justify your salary????
??? You're making absolutey no sense. What are you on about? Since when was a HEO top level management? Come back when you're posting on topic - this is nothing to do with grade bashing, and considering you don't know me, what I do, my area, or how hard I work, frankly, you're talking out of your arse.
 

Baron von Biffo

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fixmystreet.ie: Ok, not a bad idea at all, but the guarantee that a local official will respond in 2 working days wont ever happen. Theres a seperation between local and national government. If it takes away the clientalism of people first going to their cllrs/TDs, thens its a GREAT idea.
I had to laugh at this one having been told during the week that the FG dominated Laois CoCo has decreed that it will only repair street lights when at least 3 are faulty on any street.

- (46), opengov.ie is a bad idea. Its another example of directing energy toards reporting what you're doing/saving/consuming - rather than getting on with DOING it. The amount of resources that will go into real time purchase orders for over 20k, along with details of the outlays, on the websites is a waste. Private sector companies dont waste their energies on such things.
Government can't operate the same as private business because there's a greater need for openness and transparency. There's also the problem of EU rules that mean the state is sometimes obliged to grant contracts that make no economic sense.
 

ocoonassa

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I wouldn't buy a used car from these FG loopholes never mind trust them to set up a new form of government. They're old dinosaurs from the civil war, they don't understand the modern world or the new politics that is trying to emerge. All they'll deliver is more of the same we've been having in a shiny new format. It'll be sad to see people get suckered.
 

civilserpant

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Government can't operate the same as private business because there's a greater need for openness and transparency. There's also the problem of EU rules that mean the state is sometimes obliged to grant contracts that make no economic sense.
Oh I agree public can't operate the same way private does, absolutely, and thats forgotten here all the time. But the level of frankly pointless work that would be involved to give the level of transparancy FG are calling for here is horrendus and a waste of resources. If people want to know why it costs more for the state to do something than a private company, look no further than an inability to negotiate on submitted tender prices.
 

Tea Party Patriot

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In fairness to Fine Gale they are making an effort here. But the main problem I have with the document is how it is going to deliver the immediate savings that we need. Continuous improvement and natural wastage is fine if you don't need money now, it is a long term cost saving, which is good but will not generate immediate cash. I still have to see where they can achieve the immediate savings that are required in order to close our deficit?
 

fecker

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In fairness to Fine Gale they are making an effort here. But the main problem I have with the document is how it is going to deliver the immediate savings that we need. Continuous improvement and natural wastage is fine if you don't need money now, it is a long term cost saving, which is good but will not generate immediate cash. I still have to see where they can achieve the immediate savings that are required in order to close our deficit?
Going for 300, I see. Post something, anything. But make a point. If I post a rebuttle against Fianna Fail, I'll still call tem FF or Fianna Fail. As A good party member, please do the same. Gain some credit!
 

Tea Party Patriot

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Going for 300, I see. Post something, anything. But make a point. If I post a rebuttle against Fianna Fail, I'll still call tem FF or Fianna Fail. As A good party member, please do the same. Gain some credit!
As a member of FF I am not any happier with the way they are approaching this than anyone else. But I don't think that the question I asked in the original post was out of order.

I merely stated my opinion as an accountant that continious improvement and natural wastage would deliver substantial cost savings. I did however point out that this is long term and not immediate. The country has to make immediate cost savings now or we won't be debating about FF, FG or Lab, we will be debating about what the IMF will be doing next, and we won't get a vote on the matter.

All of our parties are at fault here, not one of them has put forward figures that will solve our financial crisis. As for making a point, well I would like to see you outline where the opposition so far has put forward figures to close the budget deficit? If you can show me a properly costed plan to this I will be happy.



I am a very disgruntled FF member but I am also fed up with all parties playing politics with our finances. If Ireland Inc was a private company the liquidator would have came and gone long ago.
 

fecker

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and sorry its so long.
Read what you replied to. You made me laugh! It's a good post and I mean no disrespect. If I think you are on the prowl, I shall keep my posts short. That post is worth reading.
 

fecker

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As a member of FF I am not any happier with the way they are approaching this than anyone else. But I don't think that the question I asked in the original post was out of order.

I merely stated my opinion as an accountant that continious improvement and natural wastage would deliver substantial cost savings. I did however point out that this is long term and not immediate. The country has to make immediate cost savings now or we won't be debating about FF, FG or Lab, we will be debating about what the IMF will be doing next, and we won't get a vote on the matter.

All of our parties are at fault here, not one of them has put forward figures that will solve our financial crisis. As for making a point, well I would like to see you outline where the opposition so far has put forward figures to close the budget deficit? If you can show me a properly costed plan to this I will be happy.



I am a very disgruntled FF member but I am also fed up with all parties playing politics with our finances. If Ireland Inc was a private company the liquidator would have came and gone long ago.
Ok, fair point. I asked for this. I am not an 'opposition member' Just a pissed off citzen. Am private sector and a union member and, not a happy one. So, firstly I would like to see a cull of our 'pork belly' expenditure. Them quangos'. Then a dramitic cut in Oireac...sjite, I can't spell....CUTS from those that rule us. I'd also like the figures (what Noonan and Burton seen) And I'd like these to be published at least every quarter. just for us plebs' to see. Once I, me and others (the bulk of , ok, P.ie and those who do not go on forums) are treated as proper citizens in a Sovereign Rebublic, I will accept what and who I vote for. Is this a fair reply?
 

Tea Party Patriot

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Going for 300, I see. Post something, anything. But make a point. If I post a rebuttle against Fianna Fail, I'll still call tem FF or Fianna Fail. As A good party member, please do the same. Gain some credit!
Ok, fair point. I asked for this. I am not an 'opposition member' Just a pissed off citzen. Am private sector and a union member and, not a happy one. So, firstly I would like to see a cull of our 'pork belly' expenditure. Them quangos'. Then a dramitic cut in Oireac...sjite, I can't spell....CUTS from those that rule us. I'd also like the figures (what Noonan and Burton seen) And I'd like these to be published at least every quarter. just for us plebs' to see. Once I, me and others (the bulk of , ok, P.ie and those who do not go on forums) are treated as proper citizens in a Sovereign Rebublic, I will accept what and who I vote for. Is this a fair reply?
+1, this is a fair reply
 

civilserpant

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Why do I think this thread has descended into a troll debating with himself?
Theres a lot in the document, and its a pity the contents aren't being debated. If you were to strip out the previously announced comments on Seanad, health service etc you've got a few main items.

- Training envelope for unemployed a la the Health envelope idea (abolishing FAS)
- Cut TDs by 20
- Cut civil service by 5,500 once the FG reforms have takend place
- emphasise new schol boards and move 'Church' to the side where communities want it
- big emphasis on reporting, reporting, reporting.
- merge the utility regulators (sell off the retail)
- merge the regulator appeals bodies
- whistleblowers Act
- turn Taoiseachs to cabinet office
- recruit specialised staff to DoFinance
- cap health service, Ministerial & agency CEO pay at 200k (which won't affect ESB etc)
and a lot more...

And instead the debate is about what FG haven't included. Well, we haven't seen any strategy from FF or Labour yet, so I find that criticism baffling.
 

pollbearer

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Theres a lot in the document, and its a pity the contents aren't being debated. If you were to strip out the previously announced comments on Seanad, health service etc you've got a few main items.

- Training envelope for unemployed a la the Health envelope idea (abolishing FAS)
- Cut TDs by 20
- Cut civil service by 5,500 once the FG reforms have takend place
- emphasise new schol boards and move 'Church' to the side where communities want it
- big emphasis on reporting, reporting, reporting.
- merge the utility regulators (sell off the retail)
- merge the regulator appeals bodies
- whistleblowers Act
- turn Taoiseachs to cabinet office
- recruit specialised staff to DoFinance
- cap health service, Ministerial & agency CEO pay at 200k (which won't affect ESB etc)
and a lot more...

And instead the debate is about what FG haven't included. Well, we haven't seen any strategy from FF or Labour yet, so I find that criticism baffling.
Congrats on your initial post (although its length is a little off putting). It is ironic that contributors to this website who profess indepth interest in politics rarely discuss any policy initiative in depth, resorting more often than not to tribal abuse.

Of course a lot of what FG are proposing will never be implemented but as an effort from an opposition party, it deserves credit for its effort. It is also in stark contrast to the current Government's inability to actually deliver meaningful public sector reform, as evidence by the Action Plan in the attached link.http://www.finance.gov.ie/documents/publications/reports/2010/civilservactionplan.pdf
 

pobskin

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Washington Post Article

With bailout near, Irish PM's coalition cracks

Opinion polls show the left-of-center Labor Party and center-right Fine Gael Party both leading Fianna Fail, whose public support has now eroded to 17 percent in some polls.

Fair to call Fine Gael "center-right?" The Washington Post obviously doesn't understand that ideology plays little role in the FG-FF dynamic.
 


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