Cross-Departmental Challenges identifies an emerging problem in the Irish public service modernisation programme. The structure of the Irish administrative system is not suited to the management of issues that cross the remits of single government departments or offices. Responsibility and accountability, politically and administratively, are rooted in departmental focus. This is a pattern that is evident in modernisation programmes across the OECD.
The Irish system has made some efforts to adapt to the changing requirements of cross-cutting issues, for instance, in relation to the care of children, a minister of state has been appointed with a remit across a number of departments. Nonetheless, the authors identify major cross-cutting issues that will demand more radical adaptation of public management over the next five to ten years: Ireland’s changing political relationships internationally, particularly with the enlargement of the EU; the challenge of maintaining economic competitiveness; technological change; changing demographic patterns and immigration; the fiscal situation linked to the need to adhere to the EU’s stability and growth pact; and the impact of egovernment.
Cross-Departmental Challenges presents a thoughtful review of the public service modernisation programme to date, and proposes a way forward in the context of the complexity of cross-departmental challenges.
Written by a group of senior Irish public servants, Cross-Departmental Challenges will be of interest to politicians, public servants, students and readers with an interest in the current development of governance systems to cope with change.