Research & Publications

This report examines trends in public sector development and is the seventh in our annual series. The intention is to help inform the debate on Ireland’s public sector and public administration, and its role in Irish society.

Here we try to bring some evidence to bear on the important debate on the future shape, size and direction of the public sector. Using data gathered from a number of sources, information on the size and cost of the public sector, the quality of public administration, efficiency and performance, and levels of trust and confidence is presented in a simple but rigorous manner.

 

In the State of the Public Service research series, we seek to provide evidence-informed research and commentary on key aspects of contemporary Irish public administration. The authors of these reports bring their considerable expertise and practical knowledge to the topics selected so as to provide evidence, insights and recommendations to support future development. Our aim is that these reports will not only inform, but also challenge current thinking about how the Irish public service performs. It is intended that these short research reports will be of relevance and use not only to public servants, but also to policy makers and the wider public.

 

Public Sector Trends 2021

INTRODUCTION

There are no clear or agreed definitions for comparative ranking of public administrations. However, there is widespread agreement that a number of elements should be included in any assessment:

  • The size, cost and inputs of the public sector. While size of the public sector, its cost and its inputs are not the sole or even main determinants of good public administration, nevertheless in terms of value for money in the delivery of public services, keeping check on the size, cost and other inputs of the public sector and public service is an important consideration.
  • The quality and efficiency of public administration. Public administration includes policy-making, policy legislation and management of the public sector. Such dimensions of public administration are frequently measured by subjective indicators of quality, which give a sense of how good the public administration is. There is also an onus on public administration to deliver services efficiently.
  • Sectoral performance. The delivery of social and economic outcomes in an efficient manner is central to an effective public administration.
  • Trust, satisfaction and confidence in public administration. The public ultimately must have trust, satisfaction and confidence in the public administration of a country if it is to be effective.

In this study, we examine indicators for each of these four elements of public administration. Where possible and appropriate, data is included for other European countries, in order to enable comparisons. In addition, where data are available, we have provided trend data going back over the last decade. The intention is to provide a snapshot of trends in public administration performance in Ireland, to highlight where we are doing well, what challenges are present, and where improvements can be made.

In a number of charts, as well as showing Ireland’s rating relative to the European Union (EU) plus the UK averages, the top ranked and bottom ranked country as at the time of the most recent data gathering are included for comparative purposes.

In its style and content, the format for the report, which has remained largely unchanged since 2010, drew on a number of efforts to benchmark and compare public sector efficiency and performance. These include a European Central Bank (ECB) international comparison of public sector efficiency, a study by the Netherlands Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP) of comparative public sector performance, the World Bank governance indicators project, the OECD Government at a Glance project, and an IPA study comparing public administrations.

Download

pdf file (977 kb)

Public Sector Trends 2020

This report examines trends in public sector development and is the eleventh in our annual series. The intention is to help inform the debate on Ireland’s public sector and public administration, and its role in Irish society.


Here we try to bring some evidence to bear on the important debate on the future shape, size and direction of the public sector. Using data gathered from a number of sources, information on the size and cost of the public sector, the quality of public administration, efficiency and performance, and levels of trust and confidence is presented in a simple but rigorous manner.


In the State of the Public Service research series, we seek to provide evidence-informed research and commentary on key aspects of contemporary Irish public administration. The authors of these reports bring their considerable expertise and practical knowledge to the topics selected to provide evidence, insights and recommendations to support future development. Our aim is that these reports will not only inform, but also challenge current thinking about how the Irish public service performs. We intend that these short research reports will be of relevance and use not only to public servants, but also to policy makers and the wider public

Download

pdf file (2744 kb)

Public Sector Trends 2019

Public Sector Trends 2019 examines trends in public sector development and is the tenth in our annual series. The intention is to help inform the debate on Ireland's public sector and public administration, and its role in Irish society.

Here we try to bring some evidence to bear on the important debate on the future shape, size and direction of the public sector. Using data gathered from a number of sources, information on the size and cost of the public sector, the quality of public administration, efficiency and performance, and levels of trust and confidence is presented in a simple but rigorous manner.

Download

pdf file (4033 kb)

Workforce Planning in the Irish Public Service

This Research Paper was commissioned as part of Our Public Service 2020 (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, 2017). This is the current reform programme for the public service. Action 13 requires the public service to mainstream workforce planning. A decision was made by the Action 13 working group to commission an updated research paper from the IPA to support them in their key objectives of:

  • Advancing strategic workforce planning as a discipline within the public sector
  • Ensuring the value proposition of strategic workforce planning is understood across the public sector
  • Considering shared approaches to common workforce challenges.
Download

pdf file (296 kb)

Public Sector Trends 2018

In this study, we examine indicators for each of these four elements of public administration. Where possible and appropriate, data is included for other European countries, in order to enable comparisons. In addition, where data are available, we have provided trend data going back over the last decade. The intention is to provide a snapshot of trends in public administration performance in Ireland, to highlight

where we are doing well, what challenges are present, and where improvements can be made.

 

Download

pdf file (6908 kb)

A CASE STUDY OF THE EPA-RPII MERGER

This case study reviews the merger of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the former Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), which took place in August 2014. The merger happened within the context of an extensive programme of public service cost reduction and agency rationalisation.

It is recognised that it is too early to reach definitive conclusions with regard to the longer-term outcome of the merger.  However, three years after the event it was considered appropriate to review the merger with the objectives of:

1. documenting the merger process and, in particular, acknowledging the significant work involved;
2. discussing the merger with EPA staff and identifying areas where consolidation is still required; and
3. sharing with other public bodies the considerable learning achieved within the EPA as a result of the merger.
 

Download

pdf file (1677 kb)

Public Sector Trends 2017

This report examines trends in public sector development and is the eighth in our annual series. The intention is to help inform the debate on Ireland’s public sector and public administration, and its role in Irish society.

Here we try to bring some evidence to bear on the important debate on the future shape, size and direction of the public sector. Using data gathered from a number of sources, information on the size and cost of the public sector, the quality of public administration, efficiency and performance, and levels of trust and confidence is presented in a simple but rigorous manner.

In the State of the Public Service research series, we seek to provide evidence-informed research and commentary on key aspects of contemporary Irish public administration. The authors of these reports bring their considerable expertise and practical knowledge to the topics selected so as to provide evidence, insights and recommendations to support future development. Our aim is that these reports will not only inform, but also challenge current thinking about how the Irish public service performs. It is intended that these short research reports will be of relevance and use not only to public servants, but also to policy makers and the wider public.

 

Download

pdf file (5624 kb)

The Practice of Human Resource Management

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
This report provides an overview on human resource management (HRM or frequently abbreviated to HR). The term first emerged in the 1980s in the United States. Against a backdrop of increased pressure on firms because of globalisation and technological developments, academics from a number of disciplines began to consider people and how they are employed and managed in organisations from a new perspective. A convergence of this thinking evolved into what became known as human resource management.

Drawing on the theoretical underpinnings of HRM in strategic management and organisation behaviour, the goals of HRM have been identified as to (Armstrong and Taylor, 2015):

  • Support the organisation in achieving its objectives by developing and implementing HR strategies that are integrated with business strategy
  • Contribute to the development of a high-performance culture
  • Ensure that the organisation has the talented, skilled and engaged people it needs
  • Create a positive employment relationship between management and employees and a climate of mutual trust
  • Encourage the application of an ethical approach to people management.

From the 1990s, the term strategic HR became popular rather than simply HR. This is done to emphasise the objective of aligning HR policies and practices with the interests of the organisation more generally. However, according to some commentators this has resulted in an imbalance across the many roles HR is expected to perform with a greater emphasis on ‘being strategic and a ‘business partner’ at the expense of being a ‘people partner’ that actively engages with and listens to the needs and concerns of managers and employees in general.

A perennial challenge for HR is the importance of showing that the application of good HR practices contributes to better organisation performance. The motivation has been to prove that HR rather than being a cost to the organisation ‘adds value’. Most of the research in this area is based on the premise that good HR practices enhance the motivation and commitment of staff which in turn impacts positively on productivity and performance.

Download

pdf file (757 kb)

Public Sector Trends 2016

This report examines trends in public sector development and is the seventh in our annual series. The intention is to help inform the debate on Ireland’s public sector and public administration, and its role in Irish society.

Here we try to bring some evidence to bear on the important debate on the future shape, size and direction of the public sector. Using data gathered from a number of sources, information on the size and cost of the public sector, the quality of public administration, efficiency and performance, and levels of trust and confidence is presented in a simple but rigorous manner.

In the State of the Public Service research series, we seek to provide evidence-informed research and commentary on key aspects of contemporary Irish public administration. The authors of these reports bring their considerable expertise and practical knowledge to the topics selected so as to provide evidence, insights and recommendations to support future development. Our aim is that these reports will not only inform, but also challenge current thinking about how the Irish public service performs. It is intended that these short research reports will be of relevance and use not only to public servants, but also to policy makers and the wider public.

Download

pdf file (4383 kb)

Fit for Purpose? Progress Report on Public Service Reform

When the Institute published the research paper Fit for Purpose? two years ago, we sought to contribute to the next phase of public service reform by identifying some of the key challenges for Irish public administration and some of the priority areas where change is necessary.

In this paper we re-visit the challenges set out in Fit for Purpose? and assess progress two years down the road. At a time of unrelenting media attention, there is a need now more than ever for sound evidence to show what is actually changing in the public service. This paper seeks to identify where real progress is being made, and to highlight where further progress or new initiatives are needed.

The Institute of Public Administration was founded to promote the study and improve the standard of public administration. These are goals we take seriously. Our intention is that this paper, and others in our State of the Public Service research series, provides sound evidence as the basis for an informed debate on the future direction of the public service in Ireland.

 

Download

pdf file (999 kb)


Mailing List

Do you wish to join our mailing list?

Email