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Decentralisation scrapped and over 23,000 public sector jobs to go by 2015

The government has outlined plans which also include the merging of nearly 50 state agencies.

Brendan Howlin and Enda Kenny taking announcements today
Brendan Howlin and Enda Kenny taking announcements today
Image: via MerrionStreet.ie stream

THE GOVERNMENT HAS scrapped decentralisation and announced that over 23,000 public sector jobs are to go by 2015 in its public sector reform announcement today.

The government unveiled its plans for public service reform over the coming years with Taoiseach Enda Kenny saying he wanted to do far more reform in the public sector over the next five years than had been done in the previous 15.

The reforms include the merging of various government agencies and quangos. Kenny said that the government was laying out proposals for “a new leaner, better and smarter public service”.

The number of public service employees will be reduced by 23,500 by 2015 reducing the overall public pay bill by €2.5 billion.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said he expected to downsize without breaching the terms of Croke Park Agreement meaning there will be no compulsory redundancies and that the numbers will be achieved through “natural wastage”.

In total 48 state bodies will go by the end of next year and the scrapping of decentralisation means that 40 scheduled projects have been cancelled, 22 will be reviewed and the 36 which are complete will be left as they are.

The rationalisation – effectively either scrapping or merging – of 48 state bodies by the end of next year includes:

  • The merging of three educational bodies Higher Education Training and Awards Council, Further Education Training and Awards Council and National Qualifications Authority of Ireland into one
  • The merger of 33 Vocational Education Committees from 33 to 16
  • The Competition Authority and National Consumer Agency will be merged
  • The Labour Court, Labour Relations Commission, Employment Appeals Tribunal, National Employment Rights Authority, and Equality Tribunal are to be merged into one single agency
  • The Equality Authority and Human Rights Commission are being merged in the Human Rights & Equality Commission
  • National Roads Authority to merge into Railway Procurement Agency
  • The Irish Sports Council and National Sports Council Development Authority are to merge

Many of today’s announcements have already been previously announced but Howlin denied there was “any temerity” in the proposals.

The Minister also said that the public service reform plans include 70 recommendations and 200 key actions which the government wants taken by the public sector.

These include things like shared services models for areas such as HR, payroll and pensions, better use of technology, reform of procurement processes, reducing costs and duplication and eliminating waste across the public sector.

The government said it will develop the Public Services Card to ensuring that citizens have ease of access to a range of services through multiple channels at the beginning of 2012.

Also in the proposals are a commitment to look at a GovStat initiative which will build on the Healthstat initiative and will be aimed at ensuring that citizens can see how well services are being delivered.

There will also be a new single awarding authority for student grants set up that will include an online application process for more than 72,000 students.

Also in the plan are proposals for online services like first time voter registration and the rollout of fixyourstreet.ie.

Read in full the government’s public service reform plan >

LIVEBLOG: Government announcement on public sector and quangos >

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Hugh O'Connell

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