Call to create position of Head of Civil Service

Wednesday 11 June 2014 18.22
Brendan Howlin has brought the proposal to Cabinet
Brendan Howlin has brought the proposal to Cabinet

The Cabinet is considering a proposal to appoint a Head of the Civil Service.

A report from an independent panel also recommends establishing a board to oversee the civil service, which would include four external members.

The panel, which reported to Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, suggests that the new Head of the Civil Service would oversee the performance of Secretaries General, the civil servants who run government departments.

However, each Secretary General would remain accountable to their minister.

Professor Kevin Rafter, who chaired the panel, said at the moment there is no formal centre to the civil service, there is no individual who represents the civil service.

The new Head of Civil Service would have an ambassadorial role.

They would also sit on an "accountability board".

This would "review and challenge senior management performance within the Civil Service and monitor progress in the delivery of agreed government priorities".

The board would include four external members as well as the new Head of the Civil Service, the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and three secretaries general, including those of the Departments of the Taoiseach and Public Expenditure and Reform.

The panel also recommends that there be training and induction for Special Advisors to Ministers to inform them of their roles and duties and responsibilities.

Civil Service pay was not part of the panel's brief but it did recommend as part of its performance management brief that there should not be performance-related pay for senior civil servants.

It said that performance-related pay can encourage staff to focus on short-term gains and the Civil Service should be geared towards the long term.

It also said that bonuses can sometimes reward individuals for the achievements of a team, which goes against the collegiate ethos of the Civil Service.

Keywords: civil service