A new Fine Gael policy document appears to be in the pipeline according to The Irish Times. It is said to include a slimmed-down civil service, a new cabinet minister for public sector reform and the abolition of the HSE “in its current form”. Under Fine Gael proposals, all Departments and agencies would openly compete for resources on an annual basis and publish the details of their bids. The use of cost benefit analysis would be dramatically widened to evaluate how money had been spent.
There are a couple of measures which sound as if they may act to reduce the power of the executive including the open recruitment for the head of Budget and Economic Policy division with the person appointed allowed to “hand pick his or her own team”. An “independent fiscal council” would also be established in the Oireachtas modelled on the US Congressional Budget Office, but would have additional powers, including giving recommendations and opinions on the sustainability of the public finances. Of course much depends on the detail. Someway surprisingly, in this report at least, there is no mention of open government apart from publication of bids. Yet properly open governemnt with a default position of publishing all government data would surely be among the best methods to ensure the other reforms worked. Here’s hoping this will be in the full document.