Dept Fin Capacity review

(from LorcanRK) The Department of Finance published their review today:

Well worth reading for any that want to get an insight to the way the place works (or is supposed to work)

25 replies on “Dept Fin Capacity review”

All I can say is I now know why the Economy went off the rails in particular the Government Deficit over the past few years. There are lots more Chiefs proprtionally than Indians in this organisation.There are 74 people of Principal Grade and higher with 613 Indians. There are 2 people with degree qualifications in Accountancy controlling a total spend of around Euro 60Billion. Amazing !!!! Now I know how they could not match current receipts with current expenditure and capital receipts with capital expenditure. As per usual in the CS they got like minded people to assess themselves so there is no fundamental change recommended to the System. When is the next cockup coming ?

They might now get around to demanding that all capital projects should be subject to cost benefit analysis, especially as we wont be having any new capital projects for probably twenty years.
A bit like Gormley improving insulation standards when the housing bubble is over and we have enough built to last us until 2030.
The only degrees these boys have are in closing stable doors, and even there I wouldn’t trust them.

@Richard Tol.
Not sure if you are being ironic or not.

20 million (probably 100 houses) is not even a drop in the ocean when you look at the NAMA property portfolio of say 60 billion but is commensurate with GP influence in this government.

There are reportedly 1500 unsold houses in Longford town.
(Sounds like a Beetles lyric).

This is wonderful reading – too late in the evening (and two sky+ eps of “the wire” to view) but some overviews.
they had a high level steering group (the people who will decide on the future jobs) oversee a review including focus groups and interviews, of how the organization is doing. Surprise surprise, 70% (table 4.4) thought they were doing a good job, even thought they were concerned with losing institutional memory and lacked the skills to do core work.
Its full of fluffy management speak (trust me guys I work in a business school) and very short on specifics.
I do love the fact (table 3.1) that they have more chiefs per capita than the rest of the core cs.

AP’s are the core of a dept such as this – its interesting (page 28) that upwards of 10% seem to have no degree level training and less than half have masters qualifications. Of the qualifications , at principal officer level (big chiefs) only 20% seem to have any qualifications in economics; at Administrative Officer level (sub-chiefs) 51% do, with 23% having “single” degees in econ and 28% “joint”. There appears to be nobody with masters level qualifications in accounting/finance, or statistics. I couldnt find “doctorate” “doctoral” or variants of “phd” anywhere…..

Brother Musone would be useful methinks

@Brian Lucey

Even though I am the proud possessor of an MBA, I could only bring myself to do more than skim through the executive summary.

It struck me as composed by the same people who launched us just before Xmas into the Smart Economy led recovery, the green shoots of which we daily pay homage to as we contemplate the desolation that is Ireland today, tomorrow and for at least the next 20 years.

Google is a wonderful resource to understand obscure references to those not addicted to The Wire such as Brother Musone.
In the same vein, the spelling checker now embedded in the latest versions of IE is a great help for prolific posters.

Mea Kulpa….:)
But I try to eschew IE. Chrome…thats yer browser imho

@Richard, obviously the problem isn’t too many houses, it is too many of the wrong type of houses.

A bit like the banks’ current problems with the wrong type of debt (the type that won’t be repayed).

@Brian Lucey.

My interpretation of page 28 is that only 60% of AP’s have any type of degree at all – so 40% have absolutely no 3rd level education.

I imagine that they are concentrated among the older AP’s, and no doubt these people compensate by being (dare i say it) the repository of institutional memory, but it is still amazing to find an under-educated group smack in the middle of the department’s diamond (rather than pyramid) shaped organisation chart.

But, hey…theres two people with a masters in training and education. Great, lets start a school…

The word “transparency” does not appear at all.

The report is mainly a long list of functions to justify in Soviet-style, the additional payroll.

“..a major revamp of central procurement is underway. A number of procurement functions, formerly carried out in the Department of Finance have moved to Office of Public Works (OPW). This will allow the Department to concentrate on dealing with policy and EU procurement issues,” it says but provides no useful information on the operation of the €16 billion budget.

Will computer illiterates still be “responsible” for big outlays on IT?

The list, at Appendix 2, of those consulted in this exercise says it all. It is comprised almost exclusively of:
a. people in the public service;
b. people who were in the public service; or
c. people institutionally dependent on the public service.

Potentially critical voices (in politics, the media, academia) were ignored.

Like an election in the German Democratic Republic, the forms of democratic consultation were observed while its substance was ignored.

Is there a word in the Irish language for nomenklatura?

This Dept are supposed to be the “Elite” of the Civil Service. God help us from their incompetence. I know a person that deals with them at an operational level as a Financial Controller in a Quango. According to that person they are worse than useless in that Department but appear to be the highest paid in the Public Service.

Don’t see any reference to professional qualifications. (E.g membership of one of the recognised accountancy bodies) Masters are presumably the only post grad qualifications that count. I presume the problem goes back to getting paid more the higher degree level you have whether you need it or not.

Personally it wouldn’t worry me if nobody had masters in accountancy, it’s not that sophisticated. Most accountants have a business degree and then a professional qualification. Experience and logic work after that.

Did no one in finance see this one coming? Did no one say – “Hey look how much revenue we’re raising out of property. That can’t last.” An accountants job is to be the guy at a party with a big bucket of ice cold water and throw it in people’s faces, not provide the extra kegs!

The only transparency coming out from this report is that it shows why this august body got it wrong in the past, has got it wrong today and now looks like they’ll be getting it wrong in the future. When they were getting it wrong during the “boom” years, the consequence of their inaccurate estimates was insignificant compared to today. Now small percentage errors have major consequences (especially when this state is borrowing so much on our behalf and of course the magic of compound interest!). They really need to try harder in the estimation stakes! All our futures depend on these guys at least being reasonably accurate!!

I find it quite amusing the way a lot of postings seem to equate the level and quantity of qualifications with competence. Such things are not necessarily congruent. 🙂

The key thing about this report is that it was published. This in itself is significant – as significant as the publication of the the report of the McCarthy review of public expenditure and public servce numbers.

Being the silly season, will the promoters of this site start a thread on Robert Skildelsky’s piece economics in today’s FTimes – headlined on p1 as Faux Science ?

We can be sure that others will be referencing this article -gleefully!
When all is said, those of us who live and work in this Republic (and those who do not live here, but take an active part in discussion here and other similar fora) have a lot of work to do – the least of which is point-scoring!

@Brian Lucey

“Is there a word in the Irish language for nomenklatura?”
An Rionn Airgeadais?

“Social Partner”.


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