Written Answers. - Price Waterhouse Recommendations.

Michael Ahern

Question:

41 Mr. M. Ahern asked the Minister for Finance with regard to the hard-hitting report on the Department of Finance by the consultants Price Waterhouse the recommendations, if any, which have been acted upon; the recommendations, if any, which remain to be acted on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15173/95]

Under the Strategic Management Initiative, or SMI as it is more commonly known, my Department carried out an in-depth analysis of its mission and objectives during 1994. Under the SMI, the Department had set itself many ambitious challenges and it was considered appropriate, in view of these challenges, to review the Department's organisation and structures. This review was carried out earlier this year by management consultants, Price Waterhouse. While being a frank and thorough review of the Department's operations, the consultants' report reflected very favourably on the manner in which the Department discharged its complex and multi-faceted role, its level of performance, and the quality and commitment of staff in all areas of the organisation. The report found widespread evidence in the Department of best practice, the hallmark of which is a proactive approach both to the job on hands and acquiring the basic skills and knowledge required, both of which enhance staff mobility and versatility within the Department.

In view of the challenging and ambitious targets which the Department had set itself under the SMI, the consultants considered that some changes would be desirable, the principal ones being: the creation of a corporate services division, which would include the personnel section and the internal information technology, IT, unit. The division would be responsible for developing and implementing an appropriate human resource strategy for the Department. It would also be responsible for co-ordinating the Department's strategic management process and formulating the change programme now under way; the creation of a consultancy unit, comprising the Central IT Services, CITS, the Civil Service Training Centre, CSTC, and the Management Services Unit, MSU. This unit would be charged with reorganising and refocusing the services which these sections have to date been providing to other Government Departments and offices with a view to putting in place a fully integrated advice and support service directed at the organisational and business development needs of the Civil Service; the establishment of a change management working group to work in tandem with and to support the management committee in designing and planning the changes considered necessary to support the future evolution of the Department. The group would also support the proposed corporate services division in implementing organisational change generally.
I think the Deputy will agree that these constitute a comprehensive set of proposals which will take some time to put fully into effect. However, valuable progress has already been made, for example, the new corporate services division has been set up, the consultancy unit is being established, improved reporting arrangements at senior management level have been set in train, a significant start has been made to implementing increased staff mobility, and a change management working group has been established. This latter group, apart from assisting with and advising on the change programme generally, will also work closely with the corporate services division in devising a suitable human resource strategy for the Department.
I am very pleased with progress to date and I am confident that, once the process has had time to take root, the Department will be well situated to address its complex and many faceted objectives and enjoy a solid basis for planning well into the next century.