Key Messages:

  • Public Service Reform: a key priority for Government
  • OECD advises Ireland to link Public Service Reform with expenditure
  • OECD advises that reform should focus more on evaluation of outcomes
  • OECD concludes that Ireland’s 2014-16 Public Service Reform Plan was largely a success with almost 90% of actions achieved.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment, Patrick O’Donovan T.D., today (Thursday) welcomed the launch of the following four public service reform initiatives, which cover the achievements since 2014 and identify lessons learned for the next phase, and launching the first ever public consultation on public service reform:

  1. Progress Report on the implementation of the 2014-16 Public Service Reform Plan;

The final Progress Report on the second Public Service Reform Plan reflects upon reforms implemented during that period, highlighting a wide range of improved services for the public and savings across a range of projects.  It shows that almost 90% of the 227 actions in the plan are on target or completed. Particular highlights include the significant progress on improving online services and using technology to generate efficiencies, a very significant programme of Government reform with an ambitious slate of legislation and the transformation of the civil service through the implementation of the Civil Service Renewal Plan which is creating a more unified, professional, responsive and open and accountable Civil Service.

  1. OECD Assessment of the 2014-16 Public Service Reform Plan;

The OECD was commissioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to undertake an evaluation of the second Public Service Reform Plan, which covered the period 2014-2016, with a view to informing future public service reform efforts. The OECD Assessment acknowledges the achievements made and identifies the key areas where public service reform needs to focus on going forward.

  1. Public consultation on the third Public Service Reform Plan;

This first-ever public consultation on public service reform, has been opened in preparation for the third phase of the Plan. Our Public Service 2020 – Development and Innovation Framework identifies 20 draft actions to implement in order to deliver better outcomes for the public and to build responsive and agile public service organisations. The Framework is based on the following three pillars.

  • Delivering for our Public
  • Innovating for our Future
  • Developing our People and Organisations

Members of the public are welcome to submit their views on the draft framework, including what is missing or what needs to be included.  Submissions can be made via a dedicated consultation portal, by email to, or written submissions can be addressed to ‘Public Consultation’, Reform and Delivery Office, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, 7-9 Merrion Row, Dublin 2, D02 V223. The closing date for submissions is 4th September 2017.

  1. Two case-studies on recent major reform projects;

The creation of the Office of Government Procurement and the establishment of the INTREO one-stop-shop service for job-seekers. These have been included in order to address a gap in access to public service case studies to date, and are educational resources for free use in third-level and public policy environments.

The launch of these four initiatives is a positive reflection of the progress on reform that has been achieved to date, across the public service. It also highlights the forward-looking vision that surrounds the next phase of reform, which is due to be launched before the end of the year.  Speaking at the launch, Minister O’Donovan said ‘These four initiatives all contribute to our key aim of reforming how we work in order to improve public services for our people, our communities and our businesses. The OECD Assessment, the Progress Report and the Case Studies provide an opportunity to reflect upon the good progress that has been made across the Public Service under the reform programme and also provide important learnings we can draw upon for the next phase of reform. The public consultation is essential for us to get direct feedback from the Irish public on our new plan, Our Public Service 2020, and I encourage anyone interested in how we can improve our public services further to share their views.’

Robert Watt, Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, said ‘The Progress Report launched today includes over 200 varied examples of reform achievements since 2014, many of which will continue to deliver benefits in the years to come. I want to recognise the contribution of public servants around Ireland to the reform agenda, both to the major projects which deliver across the whole public service as well as the substantial reform projects in each sector.’


Notes for Editors

Final Progress Report

The Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016 was published in January 2014, following on from the first Public Service Reform Plan which was published in November 2011. The second Plan reflected the need to maintain a focus on reducing costs and increasing efficiency, and had the overarching objective of delivering better outcomes for all stakeholders and a strong emphasis on service improvement.

Progress Reports on the implementation of the second Reform Plan were published in March 2015 and April 2016. This final report, while following the model of previous progress reports, covers the achievements of the full three-year cycle of the Plan, from 2014 to 2016. It includes progress not only on the core cross-cutting actions of the plan, which were mainly led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, but also includes a wide range of examples of improvements across the public service, from improving customer service and outcomes for the public and securing greater efficiencies, to major Government and legislative reform. It also demonstrates that significant investment in improving leadership and human resource management has been made.  Detailed tables showing the end-2016 status of the 227 specific cross-cutting actions of the Plan, with the status of each action, are included as an appendix. Almost 90% of these are ‘on target’ or ‘complete’.

OECD Assessment of the Public Service Reform Plan 2014 – 2016

The OECD was commissioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to undertake this written evaluation of the second Public Service Reform Plan with a view to informing future public service reform efforts. It focuses on whether the plan met its objectives, how Ireland compares with other OECD member countries, and it provides clear recommendations for the future direction of public service reform.

The assessment consisted of desk-based research and involved a three-day mission to Ireland in March 2017, where the OECD team met with key stakeholders from across the Civil and Public Service, as well as external experts and academics working on public service reform. As part of the assessment the OECD collected and analysed the reporting from 2014, 2015 and 2016 on the implementation of the plan, along with the results of a survey of stakeholders on the design, achievements, governance and project management approach that was undertaken in the Plan.

The Assessment notes that the Reform Plan 2014-16 achieved the majority of its goals. It identifies key learnings for the future including:

  • focusing more on evaluation of the impact of the reforms on citizens and organisational efficiencies;
  • strengthening governance arrangements and focusing on what the respective responsibilities of the centre and the sectors are;
  • spelling out more clearly the respective roles of key public service actors in achieving results for citizens;
  • seizing the opportunity to move from a process-oriented reform plan to one anchored in outcomes and to drive innovation; and strengthening the link between expenditure and reform as part of this.

Public Consultation on Our Public Service 2020: Development and Innovation Framework

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is now progressing a successor to the 2014-2016 Reform Plan entitled Our Public Service 2020, which is framed around the three pillars listed above. It is anticipated that this third Plan will be launched in November 2017, so the public consultation will run until 4 September 2017.  The benefits of this approach include better public transparency around the consultation process, and the ability to allow stakeholders to comment on other submissions.

Public Service Reform Case Studies

The Reform and Delivery Office (RDO) of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has developed these Case Studies on Public Service Reform in partnership with a number of Government Departments and educational institutions, as part of a pilot initiative. An Editorial Board, chaired by the RDO Programme Director, Dr. Lucy Fallon-Byrne, was established to oversee and guide the process and to provide quality assurance on the final reports.  As resources, the case studies should facilitate a greater understanding of implementation and delivery of reform issues, and they will provide some organisational learning to support future change programmes. Following the learnings from this pilot project, it is planned to continue the initiative with further rounds of case studies, with the next round focusing on citizen engagement.

All documents, including the OECD Assessment, can also be found here, or can be provided on request by emailing