The Government is to streamline disciplinary procedures to make it easier to fire underperforming civil servants as part of a new three-year strategy to improve the civil service.

The Civil Service Renewal Plan encompasses 25 actions aimed at making it a unified organisation, which is more professional, responsible, open and accountable.

The move follows an extensive consultation process with up to 2,000 stakeholders including civil servants, politicians and external commentators.

Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Robert Watt is to become the spokesperson for the service and said the goal was to provide a world-class service.

Senior civil servants have acknowledged that, traditionally, they had been very bad at managing performance.

Mr Watt said the system of performance management would be strengthened and would apply to all grades including the secretaries general of Government departments.

Mr Watt said they needed to establish whether someone was doing their job or not and where they were not, "exit strategies" would be examined. 

He noted that frequently underperformance was addressed on a confidential basis, often through voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

However, he was unable to say how many of the 35,000 civil servants had been dismissed for underperformance.

He said there would be recognition of excellence, but that would not involve bonuses.

Instead there would be events where outstanding performance would be acknowledged.

He said they would be recruiting people to implement the strategy, mainly on fixed-term contracts of up to five years, and that implementation would cost up to €2m.

Mr Watt also said that ministerial advisers brought in to assist ministers were a valuable link between the apolitical civil service and the political structures.

However, he said they were often brought in with no induction and needed to be given more support.

The new Civil Service Management Board will convene its first meeting next week.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said that the Civil Service Renewal Plan does not simply focus on underperformance but the celebration of high-performance.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, he said the previous system of appraisal was not done sufficiently well and that he hopes this plan will make for better accountability.

However, he said that no bonuses would be involved and instead people would be recognised in terms of promotion and "celebrations of excellence".

But he said that the incremental structure was historical and that it would continue having "served the country extremely well."