In yesterday’s speech the Taoiseach said:
Restructuring of Departments and agencies inevitably entails disruption and costs but I am satisfied that with the changes I am making, the benefits will outweigh the cost…
Costs, of course, include changes to name-plates, stationery, web-sites and so on, as well as the HR dimension of moving staff around. Benefits are more problematic. The UK National Audit Office has recently reported on Reorganising Central Government and concluded that the UK government has averaged £200M a year over the last few years on reorganisations of government departments and other units, but with scant evidence that such expenditures are justified. They state:
Central government bodies are weak at identifying and securing the benefits they hope to gain from reorganisation.
The NAO makes a number of proposals for more systematic evaluation before reorganisations take place, the establishment of a central team ‘with oversight and advance warning of all government reorganisations’ and better parliamentary scrutiny. There is, of course, a problem with such analysis in that reorganisations of the kind announced by the Irish Government yesterday are chiefly driven by political concerns. They are significant as much for what they symbolise as for what they may achieve by way of enhancing governmental capacity for action.