Concerns over the Department of Justice and Equality have been raised in a newly published report seen by RTÉ's This Week.

The report, "Department of Justice and Equality - Review of Change programme" by consultants EY, highlights a number of particular 'Areas of Concern' under a number of headings.

'Bright Spots', where details on progress being made, have also been identified. These include a "highly effective" joint agency approach to the management of crime.

The 'Areas of Concern' identified are under the following headings:


Under the heading 'Structure', the report calls for the urgent establishment of a Home Affairs portfolio under a Deputy Secretary General within the Department.

This recommendation was originally made in 2014 by a previous review group and again in 2017 by consultants Mazars.

The Toland Report recommended in 2014 that the justice portfolio of the department should cover civil and criminal law reform, crime and security, and international policy, while Home Affairs should include policing, prisons, courts, equality and integration.

The EY report says that this change is "urgently required to improve the organisational effectiveness of the Department".

"Progress on restructuring the Department has been limited to date", according to the report.

It also questions: "What is the core roadblock preventing progress in implementing recommendations on changes and structures and operating model of the Department?"

The July 2017 Mazars report, which was also published during the week, identified the restructuring of the Department as a 'Priority 1' recommendation, which should be implemented by July 2018 at the latest.

Knowledge transfer and succession planning

The EY report says that a combination of the age profile of staff, the recruitment moratorium "has left the Department susceptible to losing large amounts of institutional knowledge". The report describes this as a "key risk".

The report recommends that key staff should be given the time within daily workloads to transfer knowledge to avoid "an exodus of knowledge".

External communications and transparency

The EY report calls for a "paradigm shift in mind set" with regard to transparency and media relations.

This is required to change the Department's "historic reputation for being closed and secretive".

Relationship between garda, Policing Authority and department

While the report says governance frameworks introduced between the department, An Garda Síochána and the Policing Authority have brought structure to inter-agency relations, "a lack of clarity surrounding precise roles and responsibilities".

It describes "a 'cluttered architecture' that is difficult for the parties to navigate and operate within".

The EY report acknowledges that this is to be looked at by the commission on the Future of Policing.

The report also acknowledges improvements in the working of the department.

Among the 'Bright spots where significant progress has been made', the EY report identifies improvements on the Management Board, improved internal communications within the Department and the Joint Agency Response to Crime programme (J-ARC) in particular.

The J-ARC co-operation between An Garda Síochána, the Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service "has proven highly effective approach to the management of crime".

Mobility of staff and risk management training programmes are all identified as 'Green Shoots where good progress has been made'.

A 'Culture and Values Charter (2016)' "is slowly beginning to embed within the Department, the report says.

"The value of openness, with a commitment to communicating honestly and constructively...has started to permeate through the Department," it says.

'Areas requiring attention' in the report include individuals "unwilling to take responsibility" and "non-collaborative behaviours" when accountability is not clear.

Access to data in a timely manner is also identified as requiring attention.

"There is a misalignment between the amount of data held by the Department and the ability to access it in a timely and meaningful manner", the report says. It calls for increased investment in making data more accessible within the department.

Referring to the recommendations of the 2014 Toland report, the EY document says: "It is evident that the Department of Justice and Equality have taken the findings of the Toland Report very seriously".

However, with respect to progress made on the 2014 recommendations, the consultants say: "None of the areas of progress are 'finished products' and the department needs to maintain the momentum they have created in order to extract the full benefits from their efforts to date."