The Government, as set out in the Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016, is commited to driving greater use of alternative models of service delivery, with the focus being firmly set on delivering better outcomes for the service-user. New and existing services should be continually assessed to ensure that services are being delivered to the citizen by the most efficient, productive and cost-effective means available. This involves the Alternative Service Delivery Unit of the Department working closely with other Government Departments, Offices and publicly funded bodies to assist and advise them on their current or proposed delivery models for the services they provide to the public.

Historically, public services in Ireland have tended to be delivered in-house. However, experience both nationally and internationally, has shown that alternative models of service delivery can, in certain cases, provide better, more focussed services and therefore provide greater outcomes to the citizens.

The range of delivery models available to public service organisations is varied. The most well-known of these delivery channels is External Service Delivery. Other Alternative Models of Delivery include delivery through partnership with the community and voluntary sector, social enterprises and private enterprise. The choice of service delivery should generally be contingent on the level of public service involvement required, the type of service to be delivered, the needs of the service user and the desired outcomes for all the relevant stakeholders.

The Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016 has given a commitment to ensure that allocation of resources and funding through the community and voluntary and sector will in the future be more outcomes-focussed. This will involve the public service having a greater role in commissioning with the community and voluntary sector in the future. This means specifying desired policy outcomes, planning and liaising with potential providers, procuring and engaging services to obtain the best value for money; and managing the performance of such services to ensure that the needs of the service-user is being met. This approach to Commissioning will ensure that the taxpayer is getting the most from its investment in social and community services that are funded through the community and voluntary sector.