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'No proper system of assessment' in the civil service

A newspaper report today shows that just nine out of almost 18,000 people in the civil service received poor performance ratings last year.
Nov 6th 2011, 2:13 PM 1,063 76

THE PROCESS OF assessment in the civil service has come under fire today, after it emerged that only nine out of almost 18,000 workers were given the lowest rating last year.

Former TD, minister and leader of Fine Gael Alan Dukes said today that “we don’t have a proper system of assessment in the public service”. He was speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane show in response to a Sunday Times report.

Mark Tighe reports in the paper that a rating system which was introduced to improve to improve performance is failing. The Sunday Times has learned that only nine civil servants out of 17,728 received the lowest rating possible – one out of five.

Staff who are given two or more out of five are entitled to a pay increase, and those who earn three or more out of five can apply for promotion.

Dukes – who is now the chairman of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation –  said that “we need a far better system” and said he was concerned about a culture of self-assessment, which he said was equivalent to “no assessment”.

Merit pay

He detailed a scheme of merit pay which was brought in in the civil service a few years ago, whereby those who were deemed to have performed particularly well would be given bonus payments. Dukes said that only in one department was the scheme was implemented “seriously” and a small number of the senior civil servants got merit pay. He said that in all other departments every civil servant received the bonuses, leading to “mutiny” in the one department were the scheme was properly implemented.

The Sunday Times also reports that managers in the civil service do not tackle under-performance, fearing a backlash from unions, while Alan Dukes said it was likely that unions would ‘kick against’ an attempt to reform the method of assessment.

ICTU’s Paul Sweeney said today that he’s not a fan of merit pay, and said it should only be given in exceptional circumstances. He said that it’s important that the public service is efficient and that he believes bonuses should not be given unless they’re deserved.

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Emer McLysaght

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