Background Information

The purpose of the Modernisation Programme is to provide an excellent service for the Government and for the public as customers and clients at all levels, building on the good service that is provided at present.

The Modernisation Programme has its roots in the Strategic Management Initiative (SMI), which was launched in 1994. This set the agenda for change in the Irish Civil Service.  The objectives are to ensure that, on an ongoing basis, the public service would:

  • make a greater contribution to national development;
  • be a provider of excellent services to the public; and
  • make effective use of resources.
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In February 1994, the Government agreed to the establishment of a Co-ordinating Group of Secretaries of Departments (This group is now titled the Implementation Group of Secretaries General).  Leaflet Distribution by Allhomes.

  • consider the development of a strategic management process in the Irish Public Service,
  • facilitate the preparation of strategy statements at the individual Department level, and
  • oversee the allocation of a fund to assist Departments to acquire expertise in strategic planning and organisation development.

Following consideration of the First Report to Government of the Co-ordinating Group of Secretaries (February 1995), the Government, in March 1995, mandated the Group to:

  • review existing systems for making decisions, allocating responsibility and ensuring accountability in the Irish Service; and
  • bring forward for Government consideration, proposals for an integrated programme to modernise the systems and practices in question and for the consequent modernisation of existing personnel and financial management in the Civil Service.

The Report, Delivering Better Government, was the Groups response to the Government decision.

Delivering Better Government

Delivering Better Government (DBG) was published in May 1996, and gave clear direction to the programme for change and modernisation. DBG expanded on the framework set out in SMI and outlined an extensive modernisation process for the Irish public service, built around six key organisational themes. These included:

  • Greater openness and accountability
  • A mission of quality customer service; and
  • The efficient and fair operation of simplified regulations.

Within government departments, these developments were to be underpinned by organisational improvements in human resource management, financial management, and enhanced information systems management.

Evaluation of the Progress of the SMI/DBG in the Civil Service

In 2002, PA Consulting Group completed a comprehensive and independent evaluation of the progress of the modernisation programme.  The report, Evaluation of the Strategic Management Initiative concluded that the Civil Service was better managed and more effective than it was a decade previously and that the modernisation programme was the critical driver of change.

The Report also concluded that the next phase of the modernisation programme would require significant changes in a number of areas and in this context it made a number of recommendations which formed the basis for the discussions which led to the modernisation programme contained in Sustaining Progress.

Social Partnership Agreements

The new Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016 is the seventh Agreement since the Social Partnership Process began in 1987. In terms of economic and social developments, the Agreement takes a ten-year perspective. The pay and related elements are of shorter duration and will be reviewed from time to time during that ten year period. The Agreement also deals with the key areas of pay, the workplace and employment rights and compliance, dealing with complex issues relating to protection of employment rights, compliance with standards and workplace relations.

The Perfomance Verification arrangements, first agreed under the previous agreement, Sustaining Progress, have been maintained. Payment of pay increases to public servants will be contingent on independent performance verification groups being satisfied that sufficient progress has been made on the change and modernisation agenda.

The Agreement outlines general principles of modernistion and flexibility and goes on to itemise specific changes in the key sectors of Helath, Education and Local Government as well as the central Civil Service. A particularly important development is the proposed extension in each of these sectors of open recruitment at senior levels as a means of gearing public service organisations up for the challenges ahead, including coping with an increasingly ageing workforce.  There will also be greater use of competitive processes for promotion purposes and a range of measures to streamline terms and conditions and to support better mobility and workforce planning.