Wednesday, 1 February 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
11. Mr. B. Ahern asked the Taoiseach if he continues to be committed to the pursuit of the strategic management initiative; and its broad implications, if any, for the reform of the broader public service. [2135/95]
The Taoiseach: The Government is fully committed to the strategic management initiative, a commitment which has been demonstrated by the appointment of Deputy Avril Doyle as Minister  with specific responsibility in this area. Earlier this week I met with Secretaries of all Departments and heads of offices to re-emphasise the importance of this process.
Phase I of the SMI is now essentially complete. This initial phase focused on the identification of objectives by Departments in the light of the Government programme and sets out the broad strategic approach to achieving these aims. Phase II is now beginning and it will focus essentially on outcomes and will aim for specific results to be achieved within a certain time frame. I would envisage all Ministers being fully involved in this process within their Departments.
The co-ordinating group of secretaries established under the SMI is at present completing its first report to Government. The Government programme has a specific commitment that “in co-operation with the public service, reform of the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924 will be undertaken”. I see the work of the co-ordinating group of secretaries making an important contribution to the Government's implementation of that commitment.
Mr. B. Ahern: Will the Taoiseach agree the strategic management initiative is designed to improve efficiency, productivity and value for money in the public service? Will he honestly say how the appointment of five Ministers of State in Government Buildings, plus dozens of non-civil servants is consistent with the aims and purposes of the strategic management initiative? When one analyses what the Taoiseach said, the job of the Minister of State, Deputy Doyle, is similar to that of the Minister for administrative affairs in “Yes Minister”, with no real responsibility?
The Taoiseach: Basically there is a particular problem — this is identified in the strategic management review — in dealing with issues that run across a number of Departments. Breaking logjams that affect a number of Departments is a matter which, in the final analysis, requires detailed political leadership. The additional Ministers of State who have been appointed, Deputies Carey and Doyle, and also Deputy Currie who was appointed in the original series of appointments, have responsibility for a specific theme of work, whether it be western development, consumer of public services or child care——
The Taoiseach: —— which run across a number of Departments. That is a good way of bringing in the appropriate political input to break the logjams that have existed in every Government since the foundation of the State. I can produce from the record of the previous Government several examples of issues which simply were not decided because one Department would not let another Minister do so and the result was that nobody made the decision. I hope that by establishing this approach — a horizontal political input on issues rather than a vertical input — we will be able to solve matters through creative application of political leadership by the Ministers of State concerned. This is a good measure and one which should be judged by its results.
Mr. B. Ahern: I do not agree with the Taoiseach. We will judge this measure over time but I honestly believe that the  structure being put in place will subvert the strategic management initiative, and time will prove this right.
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