Developments by Sector

A summary of the progress made in the first year of the Agreement in each sector of the public service is provided below:

  • Provision of the same level and quality of services with much reduced budgets. (The overall HSE budget has decreased from €14.6 bn in 2009 to €14.1 bn in 2010 and €13.4 bn in 2011).
  • Modernisation of the Laboratory Services – agreement secured on revised terms for provision of hospital laboratory services outside normal working hours.  Savings arising from this agreement are now estimated to be in the order of €7m per year – or €2m more than originally anticipated.
  • A voluntary early retirement scheme and voluntary redundancy scheme for certain staff categories were implemented in late 2010, under which 1,626 WTE staff left the public health service (gross saving of €60m).
  • The centralisation of the processing of applications for medical cards was completed on 1 July 2011.  Since then, the new centralised service has received more that 123,000 applications and reviews and is handling more that 2,000 phone calls each day. This development will improve service quality and reduce administration costs (move to on-line, faster turnaround time, improved access).
  • The finalisation of arrangements for the legal transfer of 1,020 staff of the Community Welfare Service from theHSEto the Department of Social Protection (which took effect on 1 October 2011).  This represented the culmination of a lengthy process and will enable the CWS to function as a fully integrated part of the social welfare system, with savings to the Exchequer and an improved service for citizens.  
  • Internal redeployment in the health service is also taking place, for example, a further 750 staff have redeployed in the period between April and September 2011.
  • A major reform programme is underway in the Clinical Care Programmes, particularly within the acute hospital system in, mental health services, services for older people and disability services, for example, a new Special Delivery Unit was established to unblock obstacles that prevent patients being seen and treated quickly.
  • The HSE’s value-for-money savings target of €106m (for 2010) was exceeded by €20m, i.e. savings of €126m were achieved. (This was in addition to the continuation of measures that achieved savings of €280m in 2008 and €115m in 2009).

  • A reduction of 2,000 posts of responsibility in primary and post-primary schools, with a saving of €10m annually. These posts broadly equate to promotion posts in teaching and their number will continue to decline in line with the ongoing moratorium on recruitment.
  • Implementation of the measures contained in the Education Sector Action Plan will deliver savings of approximately €15m in this first year of operation (in line with the commencement of the school year in September 2011) rising to full-year savings of approximately €39m.
  • 33,000 Primary Teachers to provide a block of additional hours (36 in a full year, 18 for the balance of the current school year) resulting in the effective elimination of school closures. This amounts to total additional hours worked of 1.19 million per annum. This has also dealt with the issue of moving staff to different posts of responsibility. The estimated value of these hours is €45m annually.
  • 27,000 Post-Primary Teachers to provide 33 additional hours per school year (amounting to additional hours worked of 890,000 per annum) without diminishing tuition time and flexibility in relation to changes in post of responsibility duties. The estimated value of these hours is €43m annually.
  • 9,500 Academic Staff in Institutes of Technology and universities are required to work an additional 26-35 hours per year. This amounts to a total of 250,000 hours per annum. The estimated value of these hours is €15m annually.
  • Redeployment procedures at primary level have been implemented with some 850 surplus teachers redeployed with an estimated full year saving of €50m.
  • New redeployment procedures for second level teachers have been implemented, resulting in the elimination of a surplus of some 200 teachers with an estimated full year saving of €12m.
  • Greater flexibility in the deployment of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) and greater discretion in the deployment of SNAs during non-instruction days.
  • Programme for rationalisation of Vocational Education Committees (VECs), reducing 33 to 16 is being progressed and to date, headquarter locations have been decided and redeployment arrangements for CEOs and non-academic staff agreed

  • Reduction in numbers serving in the civil service and the non-commercial State agencies from 49,102 to 48,280.
  • Significant redeployment is taking place in response to the overall reduction in public service numbers. Examples include redeployment of 700 FAS staff and more than 1, 000Community Welfare Officers to the Department of Social Protection as well as the redeployment of more than 500 staff from other Government Departments to Social Welfare Offices and to deal with backlog of redundancy claims.
  • Departments are rationalizing their offices and services, e.g. OPW has secured €1.5m in rental reductions in 2011 in addition to surrendering office accommodation in excess of 27,000 square metres, yielding a rental saving of €8.75m and sold property assets in excess of €5m in 2010. The programme to rationalise the number of court venues is continuing with 21 venues closing to date.   The Courts Service Board has approved the closure of a further four venues which will take effect by early 2012. Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine is on course with its programme of closure of 42 offices, retaining 16 enhanced offices.
  • The National Procurement Service now has 45 national framework agreements and contracts in place for high spend requirements with a total value in excess of €450m.
  • Bank Time has been eliminated and Privilege Days have been abolished.
  • In the area of shared services, progress has been made on the HR Shared Service project where contract negotiations are ongoing with the preferred bidder.   Also, Departments and Offices are also putting in place shared service arrangements in relation to IT, Finance and other services.   The Employment Assistance Service has been re-organised to provide an inter-departmental shared service on a regionalized basis.
  • The Top Level Appointments Committee has been reconstituted with an external chair and a majority of external members.  There is now open competition for positions at the highest levels in the Civil Service, including at the levels of Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General.
  • The programme of rationalisation and restructuring of state agencies is continuing.  For example, Teagasc is implementing a Change Programme which includes reducing the number of its advisory offices.  Also, the National Building Agency ceased operation in June 2011 and its operations were transferred to the Housing Agency.
  • In July 2011, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation announced the decision to undertake a major reform of the State’s employment rights and industrial relations procedures and institutions.  A core element of the proposals is the streamlining of the current industrial relations and employment rights bodies into a rationalised, integrated two-tier structure.  The objective will be to establish a simpler structure for workers, citizens and businesses while building upon the recognised strengths of the first instance functions currently performed by the Labour Relations Commission, the Rights Commissioners Service, National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), the Equality Tribunal and the Employment Appeals Tribunal.  Preparatory work has already commenced.

  • Since June 2008, local authorities have reduced staff numbers (whole-time equivalents) by around 7,000. 
  • In addition to the reduction in payroll costs, the Local Government sector has also achieved non-pay savings of €81.1m in the first year of the Agreement. These savings arise from restructuring, productivity and performance measures, greater use of shared services and procurement, e-Government initiatives and redeployment.
  • Greater use of shared services has led to non-pay savings of approximately €3m and, joint procurement actions have led to savings of €26m. An example is a joint initiative by Fingal and South Dublin County Councils on an energy tender which led to savings of €4.1m.
  • Withdrawal from the direct provision of refuse services and subsequent redeployment of surplus staff to other essential areas of work. Examples include South Dublin, Fingal and Kildare County Councils.
  • Local Authorities have also succeeded in avoiding costs of €61.1m over the first year, due to measures taken by local authorities on restructuring, shared services and procurement, introduction of online services and electronic payments, redeployment and increased productivity and performance.
  • A key deliverable under the Public Service Agreement is that work carried out by departing staff must be absorbed by the remaining staff while at the same time maintaining services. In this regard, local authorities have introduced new work practices, rosters and other initiatives to deal with the reduction in numbers and have been proactive in reducing overtime and allowances.
  • Redeployment of staff, including redeployment of staff to the Road Safety Authority and the redeployment of staff from the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport. It is anticipated that further redeployment will take place in the context of the transfer of responsibility for Driving Licences from local authorities to the Road Safety Authority.
  • Local authorities have also introduced initiatives to improve the delivery of services to the public, for example;

– development of map based information portals, providing access to services and amenity information.
– developing corporate websites with full ranges of e-payment options.
– integrating systems thus avoiding duplication.
– cross service customer service desks providing multi services through telephone and in house queries.
– using inter-department teams to allow for easier access to services by members of the public.

An Garda Síochána

  • Work is advancing on developing  a more effective Garda rostering system to more closely match the availability of staff with policing demands. It is intended that the new roster system will be implemented on a national basis during Quarter 1 2012.
  • Work continues in respect of further civilianization in An Garda Siochána. Key areas include Communications Centre, Garda National Immigration Bureau, public counter assistants and the Central Vetting Unit in Thurles.
  • Outsourcing of operation of safety cameras with full roll out of the Safety Camera project (6,000 hours of speed monitoring carried out by GoSafe every month), freeing up Gardaí for other frontline duties. At full capacity this all equates to 16,000 Garda man hours per month.
  • Agreement has been reached to have all Garda compensation claims in future dealt with by the State Claims Agency. This will reduce costs, and especially legal costs, significantly and speed up the processing of such claims.
  • Work has progressed on the development of a new comprehensive performance management system for the force.

Irish Prison Service

  • Staffing levels are now at some 250 below previously agreed levels in the Irish Prison Service.
  • Task Reviews are progressing at 5 prison complexes and the savings agreed to date are on target for delivery of the overall level of required savings (€21m). 
  • Agreement has been reached for the introduction of new less costly Prison Administration and Support Officer grades. These new grades will enter service in early 2012 and will significantly reduce the Prison Service staffing cost base.
  • Eight existing prisons will be merged into three campuses. Agreement has been reached with the staff associations for the development of new Campus Governance arrangements and shared services at the three major prison complexes (Mountjoy Campus, Midlands Campus and West Dublin Campus). This involves the merger of governance arrangements, management grade staffing and the development of shared services for activities such as administration, maintenance, healthcare etc.

  • Operational services required to be delivered by Government, including international commitments in terms of overseas deployments on peace support operations, have been maintained despite a 10% reduction in personnel in the Defence Forces in the first two years of the Agreement.
  • Proposals are being developed for a very significant reorganisation and restructuring of the Defence Forces which will reduce the number of Army Brigades from 3 to 2.
  • Four army barracks were closed at end March 2012 which will maximize the effectiveness of the Defence Forces by removing the burden imposed by manning and maintaining unnecessary installations.
  • Approximately 1,800 personnel have been redeployed during the first two years of the Agreement.
  • New promotion systems for Generals, Officers and Enlisted personnel, including the elimination of seniority and the introduction of merit based systems of promotion at all levels.
  • Pilot retention pay has been eliminated in the Air Corps.