I am happy to inform the Deputy that the significant public service reforms that this Government has undertaken in recent years continue to deliver improved services and value for money across a range of specific areas such as governance, accountability, procurement, shared services, organisational reform and property management. Two notable examples are the establishment of a centralised Office of Government Procurement with responsibility (together with the key sectors of Health, Defence, Education and Local Government) for sourcing goods and services on behalf of the Public Service, and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, established to lead the implementation of the Public Service ICT Strategy in cooperation with departments and agencies across the Public Service. The Deputy can be assured that public service reform remains an integral part of the Government’s economic strategy to enable us to continue to improve outcomes for the public.
Our Public Service 2020 – the current phase of public service reform, which became operational during 2018 – represents a whole-of-public-service initiative designed to build on previous reforms, while expanding the scope of reform to focus on collaboration, innovation and evaluation. Our Public Service 2020 seeks better outcomes for the public, to support innovation and collaboration and to build public service organisations that are resilient and agile.
A Public Service Leadership Board (PSLB) has been established to lead the delivery of Our Public Service 2020. For the first time, both civil and public service leaders and managers will work jointly to drive the reform programme. This will ensure there is shared ownership for the actions on reform right across the public service.
Our Public Service 2020 also contains an added focus on evaluation and on the importance of building a reform evaluation culture and in developing indicators to support an outcomes focus. With this goal in mind, within my Department we have established a Reform Evaluation Unit to focus on monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of reform as well as creating greater links between expenditure and reform.
Further details on the progress that we have already made will be available in the first progress report on Our Public Service 2020, which I will publish very shortly in conjunction with my colleague Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan, and information and up-dates on the full range of OPS2020 activities can also be accessed at the website OPS2020.gov.ie from mid-October.
As Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, I must ensure that our fiscal and public expenditure policy is sustainable and that Public Sector policy continues to facilitate good economic performance in the future. There are a number of budgetary reforms introduced in recent years to guide my decisions on overall fiscal policy in this regard, including fiscal rules, expenditure ceilings and spending reviews. The actions in Our Public Service 2020 will also ensure that the focus of the public service is very much on delivery of quality public services over the coming years, without impacting negatively on economic performance.