Transfer of Functions refers to the allocation of functions and responsibilities between Ministers and Departments. The Taoiseach, as head of Government (Article 13, Constitution), is responsible for the allocation of functions between Ministers, and for the overall organisation of the government. The structure of Government Departments tends to change to reflect the allocation of functions of individual Ministers. These changes generally occur in the period immediately after a general election, or may be instigated by the Taoiseach at any other time during his/her term.
Action 21 of the Civil Service Renewal Plan contains a commitment to:-
- ‘develop a standardised approach for managing the efficient reorganisation of Departmental structures or functions when requested by Government.’
A standardised approach for managing the efficient reorganisation of Departmental structures or functions is to be achieved by the development of a Transfer of Functions Guidelines and Best Practice Handbook. This Handbook has now been developed, and approved by Government.
The Guidelines and Best Practice Handbook sets out the principles that should underpin Departments’ implementation of transfer of functions, the role of key players including the transferring Department, the receiving Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of the Taoiseach, the Civil Service Management Board, the National Shared Services Office and the Office of Public Works. It also sets out the process to be undertaken in the development and finalisation of the relevant transfer of functions Orders, as well as the necessary financial arrangements and communications processes.