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An Evaluation Of Public Sector Reform Of Ireland

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Question: Describe about purpose of public sector reform in Ireland and administrative reform?     Answer: Introduction Public sector reforms are necessary for every government to change the course of its operation. The areas of the implementation of the public sector reform are welfare, the healthcare sector, government administration and those areas where the government has substantial stake. The reasons for such public sector can be multidimensional. It can be due to budgetary reasons, political reasons, or because of the need to improve the service of the government. The public sector reform are often implemented and launched by the politicians who are in charge of government service. (Nolan, 2001) Such ideological public sector reform is for putting a stamp of the political party. This can be explained by an example. A government whose main focus is on business then it would aim to reduce the operation of a healthcare department or enable companies to control issues like useless spending, immigration and many more issues related to the government. Then again a government can act in a different way by encouraging the health service department or nationalize whole industries. Our report aims to explore the Public Sector reform implemented by Ireland. (Killian and Eklund, 2008) Purpose Of Public Sector Reform In Ireland Before we start analyzing the need for the public sector reform in Ireland, we must gain knowledge about the country. Ireland is considered to be a small country having a population of about 4.6 million. The government of Ireland is dependent on the Westminster and Whitehall public interest and follows common tradition of law. It has a written Constitution and the president of Ireland is an elected one possessing limited powers. The ministerial responsibility is the link of accountability between the political and administrative arena. The other form of government is the local government which also performs limited functions. (Guthrie, 2005) Over the last five years, Ireland had witnessed significant alteration in the public services. There has been reduction in the working staffs by 10 percent. Other changes that had occurred n the public services is cut in wages and also changes were brought about in the terms and conditions of employment. In this regard, a public sector reform was most needed and the government of Ireland has implemented one such reform. The objective of the reform is improving the public service efficiency and upgrading the quality of public service to the residents of the country. (Mazars.ie, 2015)   Administrative Reform The international and national fiscal crisis had created an atmosphere for reform in the public administration. The direction of the public sector reform prior to fiscal crisis was different than the environment of public sector reform after the fiscal crisis. The National Recovery Plan (2010) stated that the GDP and GNP was 11 percent and 15 percent below the rates in the year 2007 (in real terms). The rate of employment had fallen by 13 percent from its previous year 2007 which depicted a peak in the level of employment. Accordingly there was a rise in the unemployment rate from 4.6 percent to 13.5 percent. (Curristine, 2008) The response of the government to the financial crisis by the end of the year 2010 was by signing a memorandum of understanding with the European Union for financial support of €85 billion to Ireland through the European Financial stability Fund. The government also took loans from the UK, Sweden and Denmark and through the Extended Fund Facility of IMF requested to them to support Ireland. This programme of support meant that Irish government was limiting their fiscal factors and framework for a period of three years. This phase of Ireland forced them to reassess its priority by reforming the public services and general operations and functions of the public administration. (Andrews, Downe and Guarneros-Meza, 2013) The first step that the government of Ireland had taken to mitigate the crisis is the reduction in employment and pay cuts in public service. The main aim of this reform was to control the government expenditure which was already under distress due to the support programme that gave financial hand to the Ireland. The Public Service Agreement in 2010 planned to cut down workers and their wages and also to revise the terms and conditions of work. This agreement was again extended by the title Public Service Stability Agreement 2013-2016 which was implemented by the Labour Relations Commission 2013. The basic framework of such extension was to increase savings for the public service payments and pension bill of €1 billion by the year 2016 for the purpose of achieving fiscal targets. The result of the reform and its extension was significant. The employment of the residents of Ireland was at its peak in 2008 and dropped by 10 percent which was from 320,000 to 287,780 in 2013. Due to the reduction in the wage and employment, the public service expenditure also reduced from €18.7 billion to €16.6 billion in 2013. But due to the ever increasing population of Ireland, the employment-population ratio has dropped from its stable position between 70-73 public sector employees per thousand populations in the year 2008 to 63.2 per thousand populations in the year 2013. (Birrell, 2010)   The next step taken by the Irish government apart from pay cut and employment removal was redeployment of workers within the public administration. This was because of the removal of employees the functioning of departments was the cut was high, was not able to function properly. So, the reshuffling of employees and their functions was required. In this context it was necessary for the public service officials to improve their flexibility, productivity and mobility to perform tasks in different sectors, organizations and boundaries in professions. The Public Sector Reform implemented by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 2011 that aimed at reorienting the operations and functions of the public service. (Boyle, 2014) The plan identified five areas of priorities which are improvement in the customer service, innovation of service delivery channels, reduction in cost, improvement in leadership skills and organizational skills and upgrading the implementation of services. Other issues that were included in the reform are the developing the shared services, outsourcing and procurement procedures. The reform may have witnessed progress but significant problems still remain in this plan. The pool reduction of employees below the age of 30 was indicated as an issue which must be catered soon. The problem can be solved if proper monitoring and individuals with desired caliber are hired for the betterment of the future of the public service. (Birrell, 2012) The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform announced another reform initiative in January 2014. It named it Public Service Reform Plan 2014-16 which focuses on rendering advanced outcomes, reform dividend by which the savings must be utilized to invest in innovative services, digitalization and openness and accountability. (Jacobs, 2001) Evaluation of Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016 The public service has complemented the national recovery of the country and thus it has always played the central role in combating the challenges with strategic management. The new public service reform was set out with the ambition of new phase in the reformatory world. There are four priorities of the plan which are discussed below: (Reformplan.per.gov.ie, 2015)   1. Improved outcomes- the previous plan focused on the reduction of cost of public service whereas this plan also follows the same rule but with the view to implement improved outcome delivery by using alternative models of service delivery, commission on particular outcomes, services being more digitalized and improvements in the delivery of service at sectoral as well as organizational levels.2. Reform dividend- the new plan focuses on the issues of protecting and enhancing public services and its emphasis is on releasing resources by delivering cost effective and efficient delivery with the help of savings that will eventually be invested for the better.3. Digitalization- with the advent of technological upgradation the public service by maximum utilization of the technology to digitalize and use open data to deliver quality service and bring about innovation in information. The government has initiated a new ICT Strategy that aims at government using the emerging technologies and ensure eGovernance to improve its functioning. (O’Donnell, 2015)4. Openness and accountability- the functioning of the public service must cater to the openness, aspect of transparency and accountability in order to gain the trust of the of the citizens. This also focuses on maintaining improved governance. In this regard a consultation paper has been released that concentrates on the strengthening the accountability and performance of Civil Service. Apart from these issues the Public service reform also focuses on implementing models of share service, reforming the procedure of public procurement, rationing of properties, improving aspect of leadership in the governance of public service and also bringing reforms in the Human Resource Department. (Actio
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