Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform announces the Next Steps for the Establishment of an Accountability Board for the Civil Service

Issued 17 February 2015

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr Brendan Howlin T.D., today (17 February 2015) announced that the Government has approved the terms of reference and appointment process for independent external members for the first ever Accountability Board for the Civil Service.  The new Board, when in place, will provide oversight on accountability and performance across the Civil Service system. 

The Board has been provided for under the Civil Service Renewal Plan following on from a recommendation of the Independent Panel on Strengthening Civil Service Accountability and Performance.  It will be chaired by the Taoiseach and balanced with ministerial, civil service and external members.

Speaking following the Government meeting which discussed the purpose and remit of the Board, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform said:

The establishment of a high level Accountability Board, chaired by the Taoiseach, is an important milestone for the Civil Service and is further evidence of our commitment to an extensive programme of Government reform. This also represents an important step in implementing the priorities set out in the Civil Service Renewal Plan”.

The Taoiseach said:

“Today's announcement is about delivering on our commitment in the Programme for Government to improve accountability in the civil service by opening it up to external assessment and oversight. As chairman of the Accountability Board I will work with the other members to introduce greater rigour to Civil Service accountability and performance.”

Minister Howlin further added that:

I am confident that the Board’s role will introduce greater rigour to Civil Service accountability and performance, and will offer an even greater degree of public assurance to enhance our existing accountability framework. It can do this by offering constructive challenge and adding value in advising on and supporting the capacity and capability of the Civil Service. In this regard, the external perspective brought to the Board’s work by the external members will be key.”

The Board will operate on an administrative basis.  An expressions of interest process will now be arranged by the Public Appointments Service for the independent external members of the Board using the procedures for state board appointments.  Following that process the Minister will bring proposed appointments to the Government for approval.

While the terms of reference have been approved by the Government, the Accountability Board will develop its own work programme.

ENDS

Note for Editors:

Renewal of the Civil Service is a pivotal part of the Government’s overall public service reform programme.

Establishing an Accountability Board for the Civil Service is a priority action for delivery of the Civil Service Renewal Plan.  The Board is part of the measures that are being taken to support a more unified Civil Service.

The Board was one of the key recommendations of the Report of the Independent Panel on Strengthening Civil Service Accountability Performance and was included in the Civil Service Renewal Plan.  The Plan was launched on 30th October 2014 by the Taoiseach and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.  The Plan outlines a Vision for the Civil Service and practical changes that will create a more unified, professional, responsive, open and accountable  Civil Service, providing a world-class service to the State and to the people of Ireland.  

The Accountability Board will operate on a non-statutory basis and will be chaired by the Taoiseach and comprise of ministerial, senior civil service and independent external members.

The Terms of Reference for the Accountability the Board are:

  • to have an overall governance role across the Civil Service and advise on and support the development of the capacity and capability of the Civil Service;
  • to provide oversight and review of proposals for a new performance management system for Secretaries General and the effective implementation and operation of the system across the Civil Service;
  • to provide oversight and review of the new programme of Organisational Capability Reviews including implementation of recommendations arising out of them; and
  • to oversee Civil Service capability in implementing cross-cutting priorities set by Government or other system wide issues;  this may involve considering individual case studies to promote learning and highlight best practice.

 

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Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,

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