The growth in state agencies, commonly referred to as ‘agencification’, has been substantial internationally. In Ireland, where many agencies are given policy advice functions, it has been particularly marked in the social inclusion sector. Up to now there has been little study of agencies’ policy-making function.
Advisers or Advocates? The Impact of State Agencies on Social Policy uses a case study methodology with quantitative and qualitative elements, and draws on interviews with senior policy-makers in government departments and the chief executives of selected agencies.
The role of government departments, in establishing agencies and working n an increasingly agencified environment, is crucial. It appears that policy-making is relatively unchanged, which calls into question the openness of government departments to expert body advice.
Key findings inlcude:
- The limited impact of agencies on social policy.
- Weak relationships between government departments and agencies.
- The dominance of government departments’ hierarchical decision-making.
- The extend of publication and overlapping of responsibilities across agencies.
- An overall failure of governance, leading to ineffective policy coordination and coherence.
Advisers or Advocates? The Impact of State Agencies on Social Policy concludes that the contribution of agencies is not significant in policy advice. Therefore, agencification may not be the most appropriate institutional response to social inclusion problems.