Civil Service reform in Ireland 1922 to 2012

O'Toole, John
Civil Service reform in Ireland 1922 to 2012. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This thesis examines civil service reform in Ireland from independence to 2012. Following independence, inexperienced and over-burdened Ministers gave the civil service, which was dominated by the Department of Finance, considerable autonomy. This creation of an impartial civil service remains one of the great achievements of the Irish State. The thesis finds that progress on administrative reform has been uneven and limited due to a combination of lack of political will and obstacles within the administration. Efforts to reform the civil service began with the 1935 Brennan Commission, and continued with the Devlin Report, 1969. This work examines the challenges faced by Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and by John Boland, first Minister for the Public Service, in reforming the civil service. Later initiatives to reform the civil service are also analysed. The thesis finds that both political will and administrative support are required for administrative reform. Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 transformed the approach to administrative reform through the Troika of the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. Administrative reform was a key element of the strategic response to economic crisis for the government which came to office in 2011. Reforms were therefore driven by external financiers who required that Ireland modernise its public administration. The establishment of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 2011 highlighted this. Uniquely, this new department combined both expenditure and reform elements. Earlier lessons in relation to poor implementation of reform were learned, with a strong focus on implementation and delivery. The Public Service Reform Plan of November 2011 set out 70 recommendations and 200 actions across five areas. This plan emphasised ownership within departments, with dedicated reform teams working under a Cabinet committee. The plan also highlighted the importance of implementation with deadlines, dates and ownership. The Irish civil service made good progress in recent years in reducing costs, improving productivity, the online delivery of services, developing shared services and putting in place administrative reforms. By drawing on the lessons learned since independence, particularly from the most recent economic crisis, governments and policy-makers may be better prepared to implement future administrative reforms.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2015-06 (completed)
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2015 10:08
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 04:43
DOI: 10.17638/02013806