Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Department of the Public Service.

26.

asked the Minister for the Public Service if he will outline the role of his Department, their objects, functions, targets and their administrative structure; if he will quantify their achievements since their foundation and detail their value to the Civil Service and the public service at large and comment on the Government's view of their role, in terms of efficiency and effectiveness and their future role as a Department of Government into the nineties; and if he will state their standing in the Government's plans for implementing Civil Service reform as part of the White Paper policy Serving the Country Better and the Government's three year plan Building on Reality, 1985-1987.

In outline, the role of the Department of the Public Service is to develop and co-ordinate the management of the public service in the areas of personnel, including remuneration and conditions, systems and structures, with a view to providing the most effective, efficient and responsive service to the State, the Government and the public.

More particularly, the Department aim to ensure, with full regard to the requirements of public policy and of good industrial relations, that:

—the organistion, technology, systems and structures of the public service are those best fitted to carrying out the tasks assigned to it;

—staff of the right quality are appointed on merit and developed to make the best contribution to the work of the service;

—pay and conditions of service are determined in a way which endeavours to balance costs and the interests of the employing organisation, the staff and the community.

The functions of the Department are set out in the Public Service (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order, 1973 and in various Statutes enacted since then.

The objectives and targets of the Department are set out in considerable details in an internal management plan which is updated annually. A useful summary is contained in Programme 53 of the Comprehensive Public Expenditure Programmes 1985 (Pl 3364), a copy of which I propose to circulate in the Official Report.

The administative structure of the Department is set out in the organisation chart which will be circulated in the Official Report. The Deputy will see from this that of the total staff of 366, 126 are in the Central Computing Service which provides a wide range of computer services to Departments and other public service bodies and 95 are engaged in service-wide personnel management, training, remuneration and industrial relations activities.

I am satisfied that much has been achieved over the years in the area of public service management and reform. The achievements of the Department and their value to the Civil Service, to the public service at large and to the general public and taxpayer may be detailed as follows:

—The explosive and unsustainable growth in public service numbers has been reversed. Civil Service numbers have been cut by about 10 per cent since 1982;

—A major programme of reviews has improved staff deployment;

—Planning-based systems of management are being introduced in all Departments;

—Public service pay has been contained with minimum industrial friction;

—Building on the limited resources available when this Government took office, resources for information technology in Departments have been substantially increased;

—Training of public servants has been increased and made more relevant —for civil servants through the Civil Service Training Centre and for other public servants through the provision of resources for the Institute of Public Administration;

—Increased provision has been made for staff welfare — for example, an active programme to combat alcoholism;

—Promotion to the higher Civil Service is now entirely based on merit;

—Mobility within the Civil Service and between the Civil Service and outside organisations has been improved;

—A system of job sharing and career breaks has provided employment opportunities for over 6,000 without increasing overall public service numbers and a very successful scheme of clerical trainees has been introduced;

—Programmes have been developed to improve public offices and service to the public;

—Tá béim níos láidre leaghta ar chur chun cinn na Gaeilge sa Státseirbhís —mar shampla Lá na Gaeilge;

—Initiatives have been taken for the devolution of functions to local authorities;

—Measures have been taken to provide equal opportunities and to avoid discrimination based on sex or marital status;

—An Ombudsman was appointed in January 1984 and his remit was extended in 1985.

The tasks which the Department of the Public Service at present undertake have to continue to be done if the country is to have an effective, responsive and costconscious public service. For example, the Exchequer pay and pensions bill is now approximately half of current supply services expenditure and the negotiation of the terms and conditions of employment of public servants for the foreseeable future is going to demand the full time exercise, with increasing sensitivity and patience, of all the skills developed in the Department of the Public Service over the years.

Again, given the demand for new personnel-intensive services, the Government must have on the one hand, a staff to deal with and control public service numbers and to ensure, where necessary, movement of staff across departmental boundaries and, on the other, the capabilities to examine how work is done in Departments and to advise on better and more cost effective ways of doing it.

In regard to information technology, there must be a central focus in Government to ensure that, not only do we adopt the latest developments in the technology and maintain our place with our European partners, but also that we make the most effective use of our resources by adhering to common policies and standards and providing common services where that is most economical. Finally, in this hard and competitive environment in which we must survive for as far ahead as we can see, there is need for an effective central direction and provision of training and development for public servants.

As regards the Deputy's other points, the Department's standing in the Government's plan for implementing public service reform will be clear from the central role and additional functions which were provided for it in the White Paper, Serving the Country Better. The White Paper stated in paragraph 8.18 that: “The Minister for the Public Service will oversee the implementation of the reforms announced in this White Paper on behalf of the Government”.

COMPREHENSIVE PUBLIC EXPENDITURE PROGRAMMES 1985

PROGRAMME 53

PUBLIC SERVICE:

MANPOWER, PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT, ORGANISATION AND REMUNERATION

General Government Expenditure

1984 outturn:

£56.804 million

1985 estimate: (a)

£59.358 million

(b)

£108.000 million*

*See NOTE (ii) under "Summary of Expenditure and Sources of Income"

I: Summary of Expenditure and Sources of Income

Expenditure

1984 outturn

1985 estimate

Change 1985 over 1984

£000

£000

%

A. Department of the Public Service

(a) Administration costs

1,024

1,235

+21

(b) Systems and Structures

2,550

3,329

+31

(c) Overall public service development

176

193

+10

(d) Manpower and personnel management

1,018

1,102

+8

(e) Remuneration and conditions

(i) Departmental costs

787

843

+7

(ii) Superannuation

46,663

47,801

+2

(iii) Increases in Remuneration and Pensions

108,000

(i)

B. Civil Service and Local Appointments Com- missioners

1,959

2,060

+5

C. Institute of Public Administration

2,627

2,795

+6

Total Expenditure

56,804(ii)

167,358(ii)

(i)

Income

Exchequer

Votes 19, 20, 22 and 49, various subheads of which:

Appropriations-in-aid

5,546

5,818

+5

Exchequer (net)

49,742

159,938

(i)

Non-Exchequer

IPA

1,516

1,602

+6

Total Income

56,804

167,358

(i)

Note:

(i) This total includes a contingency provision of £108 million to meet the net cost of 24th round pay increases in the public service in 1985. Since the distribution of this sum across Votes is only finalised near the end of the year it has not proved possible to apportion it over programmes. The comparable cost of pay increases in 1984 has been distributed across programmes. The 1984 and 1985 aggregates are therefore not comparable.

(ii) The activities of Gaeleagras na Seirbhíse Poiblí, (1984 outturn £163,000; 1985 estimate £179,000) which is part of the Department of the Public Service are included in programme 51. The figures shown here also exclude certain administration expenses recouped from the SIF and OIF which are included in the costs of the Social Welfare programmes.

II: Programme Statement

This programme covers the activities of the Department of the Public Service, the Office of the Civil Service and Local Appointments Commissioners and the Institute of Public Administration.

The Department of the Public Service was set up in 1973, following the recommendations of the Public Service Organisation Review Group, as the central authority for (a) advising Government on, and implementing, policies relating to organisation and personnel functions within the public service and (b) the re-organisation of the public service. The activities of the Department come under the following main headings:

Systems and Structures

Activities under this heading are directed at

— advising Government on the most appropriate assignment of functions to public service institutions from the point of view of efficiency and effectiveness:

— helping departments and other public service institutions to develop systems, processes, organisation and structures to enable them to carry out their assigned functions effectively and efficiently; and

— helping departments to introduce the best modern management systems and practices and to promote these in the agencies for which they have responsibility.

Overall Public Service Development

Activities under this heading are directed at

— developing and implementing proposals for fundamental change in the organisation, management and operation of the public service; and

— improving, through research, understanding of the ways in which this change can most effectively be introduced.

Manpower and Personnel Management

Activities under this heading are directed at

— enabling the appropriate levels of staffing in the public service to be determined within overall Government policies; and

— helping to make available throughout the civil service the necessary skilled staff and promoting high standards of personal performance.

Remuneration and Conditions

Activities under this heading are directed at the development and implementation, within national incomes and employment policies, of policies on pay and superannuation in the public sector and on conditions of service in the civil service, bearing in mind the need to maintain uninterrupted services and good employer/employee relations.

The Civil Service Commissioners operate under the Civil Service Commissioners Act, 1956, which relates to the holding of competitions and selection of persons for appointment to positions in the civil service. The Commissioners also deal with

— recruitment functions for an Garda Síochána, An Post and Bord Telecom Éireann;

— promotion competitions in the civil service, An Post and Bord Telecom Éireann.

The Local Appointments Commissioners operate under the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Acts 1926-1983. Legislative provisions relating to their activities appear in various other Acts, e.g. Local Government Acts, Health Acts, the County Management Act 1940, and the Harbours Acts, 1946 and 1947. Their function is the selection and recommendation of persons for appointment to professional and senior management posts under:

— Local Authorities

— Health Boards

— Harbour Authorities

— Fisheries Boards, and

— Vocational Education Committees.

The Institute of Public Administration is a company limited by guarantee. The Institute is involved in the training and education of public servants, in promoting and undertaking administrative research and in publishing sources of material on public administration. The Institute will derive 38% of its income in 1985 from Exchequer grant-in-aid. This grant-in-aid is a contribution towards the general expenses of the Institute and includes the corporate subscriptions on behalf of Government departments. A further £125,000 is being provided from the Exchequer to fund a programme of administrative research bringing the total direct Exchequer contribution to the income of the Institute to 43%. The balance of its income is derived from charges for training, publications and its other activities.

III: Details by Activity

Vote/ Other Ref.

1984 outturn

1985 estimate

£000

£000

A. Department of the Public Service

19(A1, B1, B2, C)

(a) Administration costs

Pay

352

369

Non-pay

672

866

Covering expenditure on salaries, travelling and various overhead expenses which are not charged against other activities

19(A1, A2, B1, B2, D)

(b) Systems and structures

Pay

1,971

2,382

Non-pay

579

947

Those activities are directed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service and include

• development of new and improved management systems to achieve greater efficiency and value for money in the public service

• examination of the appropriate allocation of functions to existing and new public service institutions

• projects to identify the most appropriate structures for the public service

• planned development for the use of information technology

• research into developments in information technologies and into methods for controlling and evaluating their use

• development and maintenance of computer systems

• provision of operations research and actuarial services

• control of expenditure within the civil service on consultancy, office and computer equipment

• improvement of the standard of contact between the civil service and the public.

1984

No. of projects on systems and structures

31

No. of operations research and actuarial studies

10

No. of agencies provided with computer services

41

No. of computer training courses (including video assisted courses)

65

No. of participants

416

19 (A1, A2, B1)

(c) Overall public service development

Pay

61

64

Non-pay

115

129

These activities include

• preparation of a White Paper and legislative proposals for modernisation of the public service

• a research programme into issues and methods relevant to the modernisation process

19 (A1, A2, B1, B2)

(d) Manpower and personnel management

Pay

905

947

Non-pay

113

155

These activities include

• control of staffing levels

• development of recruitment and promotion policies within the civil service

• provision of training courses at the Civil Service Training Centre

• Implementation of policies on staff development covering staff appraisal, post-entry education, staff exchanges (with the public and private sectors) and staff welfare

• creation of employment opportunities within the civil service without extra cost to the Exchequer by way of career breaks and job-sharing

• promotion of equality of opportunity within the civil service

1984

No. of CSTC courses

92

No. of participants

1,190

No. of man-course days

3,711

No. of staff on career breaks

(April '84-April '85)

751

No. of job-sharing appointments

(February '84-April '85)

150

No. of staff exchanges

30

19 (A1, B1, B2, G, H); 22; 49

(e) Remuneration and conditions

(i) Departmental costs

Pay

764

800

Non-pay

23

43

(ii) Vote 22

Superannuation

46,663

47,801

(iii) Vote 49:

Increases in Remuneration and Pensions

108,000*

*See Note under Summary of Expenditure and Sources of Income.

These activities include

• advising Government on the formulation of public pay and industrial relations policies and contributing to the formulation of national policies

• monitoring expenditure on the Exchequer Pay and Pensions Bill, amounting to £2,464 million in 1985

• negotiating pay settlements in the civil service

• overseeing the implementation of Government pay policy throughout the public sector

• controlling the conditions of service within the civil service

• developing and administering civil service superannuation schemes

• controlling the terms of superannuation schemes throughout the public service.

20

B. Office of the Civil Service and Local Appointments Commissioners

(a) Civil Service Commission

Pay

1,032

1,070

Non-pay

383

470

(b) Local Appointments Commission

Pay

268

270

Non-pay

276

250

III: Details by Activity

Vote/ Other Ref.

1984 outturn £000

1985 estimate £000

1984 Recruitment Statistics

Civil Service Comm

Local Appts. Comm.

Total

No. of applications received

49,388

4,087

53,475

No. of candidates called for:

(i) interview

5,978

2,422

8,400

(ii) exam

26,324

26,324

Total

32,302

2,422

34,724

No. of interview board days

639

389

1,028

No. of persons who took up duty as a result of competitions

1,862

359

2,221

No. of competitions announced

46

258

304

20 (A2, F) and own sources

C. The Institute of Public Administration

The activities of the Institute cover the following areas:

(i) Education

Pay

329

338

Non-pay

275

322

Provision of courses (including a degree course) in public administration and a specialised library service.

(ii) Training

Pay

817

889

Non-pay

420

452

There were 4,762 participants in 1984 on 328 courses accounting for 18,715 man-course days. The Institute is the national training centre for local authorities and health service agencies. It also provides training courses for other public service organisations, European Community Institutions, supranational organisations, staff of administrations of developing countries and provides training-related consultancy services.

(iii) Research

Pay

224

231

Non-pay

85

77

In 1984 five major studies were completed. Work was in progress on six other assignments.

(iv) Publications

Pay

227

214

Non-pay

250

272

The Institute publishes books, mainly as study materials. It also publishes three periodicals:

— Administration Yearbook and Diary

— Administration

— Young Citizen

In 1984, the schedules of all periodicals were met. Four new books and six reprints were published.

Total expenditure

56,804

167,358

It took the Minister almost five minutes to read that reply and, obviously, those who prepared it have a guilty conscience because they have found it necessary to make it so long. My question to the Minister was if he considered the Department of the Public Service as it is structured to be relevant. The functions the Minister has mentioned can be adequately carried out by other Departments. In fact, those functions were carried out more successfully in the past by other Departments. The Department of the Public Service do not have any power or a role to play. The points made by the Minister relate to administration and it appears that the Department was set up to coordinate the other areas of bureaucracy. That Department cannot do anything without the sanction of the Department of Finance. In fact, it would be better if they were under the Department of Finance. Will the Minister accept that 95 per cent of the tasks outlined in his reply could be better carried out by the Department of Finance? The Department were established to organise, plan and help to finance the other Departments but that was not mentioned in the Minister's reply. The Devlin idea was that there should be a three-line structure but the Department of the Public Service has failed in that regard. The fact that the Minister in the course of his reply did not refer to the reason the Department were set up is an indication of their failure.

I accept that my reply was long but the Deputy's question was wide ranging.

The Minister mentioned the appointment of the Ombudsman and Civil Service recruitment.

Do I take it that the Deputy's supplementary questions represent a statement of the Opposition's policy in regard to the Department of the Public Service? Excellent work has been done by that Department, in particular under the political direction of this administration.