Howlin 'not creating no-frills public service'

Wednesday 19 February 2014 22.44
Brendan Howlin said he is not trying to create a no-frills Ryanair-type public service
Brendan Howlin said he is not trying to create a no-frills Ryanair-type public service

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said he is not trying to create a "no-frills" Ryanair-type public service.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, the minister said he was looking for a high quality public service where there was accountability for inputs and outcomes.

He praised Government employees who had "kept the ship afloat" during the economic crisis but said the public service had to be open to delivering services differently.

He said that in future the public service would recruit more specialists, rather than people with general skills.

He also said that there would also be more recruitment of senior staff on short-term contracts.

He said there was no "holy writ" on the targets for cutting job numbers in the public service, adding that he wanted to "migrate" some of the savings secured from back office reforms for targeted recruitment including gardaí and teachers.

He also criticised what he called a "gotcha" culture where if someone could be nailed for a mistake it was a good thing, adding that that approach could stifle risk-taking.

Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming criticised the health service for what he called an endemic policy of "concealment and cover-up", particularly in relation to the issue of new born babies who died at the Midlands Regional Hospital

She also asked the Minister for his views on outsourcing of public service tasks.

She noted that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was planning to up-skill senior civil servants on outsourcing.

Mr Howlin said that he had an open mind on outsourcing, and that it was a question of making rational decisions regarding the most effective way of delivering services.