The Alternative Service Delivery Unit is responsible for identifying new and innovative means of delivering services. This includes assisting public sector bodies to find models of service delivery that best suit the service they want to provide to the public. Given the wide and varied nature of services that Government provides, there is significant potential for using alternative service delivery models.

Models of alternative service delivery include delivery through partnership with the community and voluntary sector and social enterprises. Social enterprise entities generally use a commercial model to provide services that deliver on a core social objective – helping to solve a particular problem or to address an identified need. There are many well-established social enterprises in Ireland such as Clann Credo and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.

Employee-owned mutuals have become popular means of service delivery in other jurisdictions in recent years. A mutual occurs when a public service body/service is ‘spun out’ from public ownership and the employees of the body/service become shareholders or partial shareholders of the new organisation. In theory, when the organisation is ‘spun out’ from public ownership, it becomes a much more flexible and nimble structure because the entity is generally freed from many of the rules that attach to public sector organisations; allowing it to provide services on a more streamlined and efficient basis.  The Alternative Service Delivery Unit is examining the potential and practicalities that would be involved in introducing this model.