Decentralisation has badly damaged the civil service, according to a report published today by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The third report of the Organisational Review Programme finds that the policy, announced by Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats in 2003, led to a "major haemorrhaging" of corporate knowledge.

In some cases, key knowledge on some important national policies became dependent on a small number of key officials and, on occasion, on just one public servant.

It found that decentralisation also resulted in major staff "churn" or turnover. The turnover of staff was around two-and-a-half times the number of posts earmarked for transfer.

The report said the loss of corporate knowledge considerably outweighed the benefit of recruiting enthusiastic new entrants.

There were also significant additional costs.

The report cites cases where Principal Officers and Assistant Secretaries having to work out of two locations, typically, the headquarters in Dublin and the new decentralised location.

Staff can end up spending between 20% and 50% of their time in one or the other premises.

It said the resulting travel and subsistence costs, along with the time burden, are substantial in many cases.

In some cases, policy decisions resulted in staff in decentralised offices not having enough work.

It also highlights low morale among staff whom had foregone promotion or sold property to avail of decentralisation that had not gone ahead.

The report finds that decentralisation impacted on internal shared understanding within organisation, especially where face-to-face interactions with Dublin-based ministers are required.

There has also been a detrimental effect where a function is geographically dispersed over a number of locations.

The report also gives an update on progress towards implementation of individual government departments in improving organisational efficiency.