The Central Expenditure Evaluation Unit in my Department was established in 2006 to promote the application of best Value for Money (VFM) practice in public expenditure programmes and projects. Its role has since evolved beyond that to include the provision of analytical and research support, to the Department and also to others. In 2012, the Government announced that an Irish Government Economic & Evaluation Service (IGEES) would be established to enhance the economic and evaluation capacity of the civil service and to improve the analytical resources available in the design and formulation of policy. Those recruited to IGEES are all trained to Masters Degree level in economics at minimum and that they have strong qualitative and analytic skills and familiarity with econometrics. These officials are engaged in carrying out Focussed Policy Assessments, a new evaluation tool introduced in 2012 that are designed to answer specific issues of policy configuration and delivery. Officials in my Department are also engaged with colleagues in other Departments in Value for Money & Policy Reviews to ensure that public funds are used effectively and efficiently. Furthermore, officials in the course of their work engage with bodies such as the Central Statistics Office, the Economic and Social Research Institute, the Institute of Public Administration, the OECD and the EU Commission.
My Department is also co-ordinating the implementation of the Government’s performance budgeting initiative and, in particular, the development of the Ireland Stat website. The Ireland Stat initiative aims to present a whole-of-government performance measurement system which will measure success in delivering on the Government’s objectives, linking high level goals with inputs, outputs and impacts.