end corruption,stroke politics, & incompetent administration

"We have ways and means of helping you make that move!"

Stubborn civil servants confused about the directionlessness of their lives are being offered their own " personal life coach"councilling at the taxpayers expense ,the Sunday Independent reports (21-8-05)

The initial beneficiaries of the fashionable, american style psychotherapy support,will be the 160 staff at the Valuation Office in Dublin.

"Life coaching sessions" cost between 600 and 1000 Euros per client.It has not been established whether the service will be expanded to the entire civil service,which would add enormously to the bin taxes,commercial rates and all stealth taxes.

Life coaching has become a multi million dollar industry in america with so called "Gurus" offering to reshape the lives of those who have lost direction...

The officials at the Valuation office are facing a sea change in their lives,an 180 mile relocation to East Cork.

Only a handful of the 99 civil servants targeted for transportation to the yuppie yachting, resort town of Youghal are however, yearning for the right direction. (South).

The scheme will operate initially for one year ,and if the civil servants have not found their way to where they are going the councilling will be extended for a further two years.

Leading life coach Greg Dalton of said that the new service would save the state money-in the long run.

He said "Coaching gets you from where you are- to where you want to be!" and described it as an enhanced form of career guidance...

If Greg does not succeed in his task,presumably Bertie will be recruiting 99 new civil servants from the environs of the unemployment black spot of East Cork.

Maybe it is better described as a service to; "get you from where you are -to where you don't want to be"!

(P.S. This article is a factual one in case you think we are taking the mickey.Check the Independent Archives if you dont believe it! ) or web site;

Civil Servant Trade Unions trying to save our money being wasted.!


THE Government's decentralisation plans could top €65m a year, according to the Impact trade union.(October 2005) 

It has called for an independent investigation into this and says while some locations are over-subscribed with applications, the take-up among specialist staff is very low at just 15pc.

Impact national secretary, Louise O'Donnell, called on TDs to seek an independent investigation of the cost of the programme "before taxpayers' money is wasted".

She said: "The next Government waste scandal is unfolding before our eyes but it is not too late to call a halt".

The union says that, going on certified figures which it has released, the cost of retaining the rest of the civil and public servants in Dublin will be between €50m and €65.6m a year.


The Impact report, which was released in last night's Prime Time programme on RTE, says: "If decentralisation goes ahead as currently planned, the civil service will need to recruit 876 additional specialists to carry out existing functions in the new locations."

It adds: "Our analysis also shows that, on a conservative estimate, the taxpayer will be burdened with ongoing costs of between €51.1m and €65.6m each year in respect of a similar number of technical and professional civil servants who will remain in Dublin with no obvious role."

Impact says the 876 specialist posts include engineers, architects, probation officers, valuers and agricultural inspectors., . The Impact cost analysis only covers payroll and accommodation costs of the staff concerned

One hundred and twenty of Ireland's senior civil servants reportedly received bonuses of at least €11,000 in 2005 on top of their generous wages of more than €2,000-a-week.

Reports leaked in August 2006 say some of the largest performance-related bonuses were paid to senior officials in the Department of Health.

Three public servants received more than €20,000, with one securing a massive €25,000.

The performance-related bonuses are based on self-assessment forms and a review by each government department into how specific goals have been achieved.

This morning's reports say a total of €2.1m in such bonuses was shared by 185 senior civil servants last year, prompting the committee which monitors the situation to warn department chiefs not to be so generous with taxpayers' money

Wish we could all "self assess" our salaries and tell the boss what we were worth-not what he thought we were worth.!

-it only happens with Fianna Fail-and taxpayers money.

Permanent jobs for the boys, and king size salaries-to boot.!

JOHN DRENNAN (Sunday independent).Feb 2007

A CASE involving the use of fixed-term contract workers by Government bodies could cost the Exchequer hundreds of millions of euro and shatter the public sector embargo on recruitment. 

The Sunday Independent has learned that a test case involving a number of long-term fixed-contract workers for the Local Government Computer Services Board (LGCSB) could see Government departments being forced to employ thousands of highly paid independent consultants on a permanent basis.

At present the chronic shortage of IT skills in the public sector means that Government departments have to hire independent contractors if they wish to upgrade their computer systems.

The hiring of such contractors in this and other areas also allows departments to evade the restrictions of the embargo on recruitment to the public sector.

However, if the challenge which is expected to be shortly heard by the Labour Rights Commissioner is successful, the contractors, who earn substantially more than most public sector workers, would be entitled to what is called a 'contract of indefinite duration'. This will allow them to secure all the perks of the public sector workers in terms of permanency and pension rights - but at a far higher rate of remuneration. 

Such a result would shatter the present pay scales in all the departments and lead to a wave of union unrest over a two-tier pay scale in the public sector. 

It would also have serious implications for the next benchmarking report.

The genesis of this present crisis occurred when a number of contractors who provided IT consultancy services to the department's Local Government Computer Services Board over a number of years claimed they were entitled to contracts of indefinite duration.

Under the Fixed Term Workers Act of 2003, if employees are hired on a series of one-year contacts after four years the employer must offer them a contract of indefinite duration on the same terms and conditions they were earning on the yearly contract.

Unsurprisingly, legal sources believe that if the claim is successful it will lead to "a tsunami of similar claims" and that this is only the "tip of an unquantifiable iceberg".

Though the LGCSB is fighting the case, it is believed it has received advice which states that the majority of the plaintiffs qualify for contracts of indefinite duration.

The board has been told that the so-called contractors meet key criteria in areas such as the possession of a dedicated desk, a land line, exclusivity in terms of work options and a requirement to clock in.

The contractors also had to report to civil service managers and were even given business cards.

It is believed fear of alienating the public sector unions was another factor in taking the case.

And the same day this news broke, lighter reading..

WHEN it comes to Impressionists, Dail Sketch always believed the ward boss was a Bull Island man.

But when Bertie admitted last week that he was actually a fan of that school of French Impressionists such as the artist Degas - who believed "art is not what you see but what you make others see" - the confession explained a lot.

There was certainly more than a small element of Degas in Bertie's "hiding in full view"-style response to Pat Rabbitte's query as to whether the Taoiseach might be doing anything about the attempt by our underpaid auctioneers to increase their fees.

It was consoling to hear that the ward boss would "not defend condone or stand over developers, auctioneers or agents of any type" who fleece the public. 

Sadly, the Taoiseach's claim that the Government's new "property regulatory services authority" (Quango number 446 in a long list ( ) should be contacted, didn't do the job either. Rabbitte's Casablanca-style explosion - "of all the meandering irrelevant answers that the Taoiseach has ever given, this is the worst of them" - was justified.

The Taoiseach's position on the auctioneers is merely the latest example of the Degas-style school of accountability.

On the plus side at least we finally have a strategy for health. Simpletons may think the present problems are all about issues such as generational under-investment. 'We wanted a referendum for de children'

Instead the PD Queen of Hearts, Mary Harney, has continued the great tradition of selecting a scapegoat to cover the Government's failures.

Everyone thought Angola had been sorted out when Brian Cowen "courageously" faced down those greedy nurses and their outrageous demands to be earning enough money to afford a house in Dublin .

Other cynics will note that, rather like the Martin Cullen school of infrastructural investment - you wait four years for a single extra bus in Dublin and then in election year 100 come along - Ms Harney's brave stand has occurred at a rather fortuitous moment.

Ultimately the highlight of the week was provided by the Taoiseach's passive-aggressive stance on the children's referendum. The Government may have spent the past nine years hiring high-falutin lawyers to fight tooth and nail against any extension of the rights of children. However, now that the election is 10 weeks away, Bertie wants to enshrine their rights in the constitution.

If a referendum comes along, Bertie will be able to pose as a friend of the child; if the opposition delay it, Ahern will be able to sigh about how he "wanted a referendum for de little children but de opposition wouldn't let me".

Dail Sketch suspects even Degas would have been impressed by the artistry with which such a fine impressionist portrait of a caring ward boss has been constructed.

The Uncivil Service Show :6000 Euros for everybody in the audience.!

By Stephen O'Farrell

Monday November 03 2008

THE Government is under fire after revelations that every staff member in the public service got performance-related payments of up to €6,000 because fellow civil servants ignored guidelines.

Consultants had designed the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) in 2004 with a five-point scale to rate staff, with 'one' being the worst and 'five' the best.

The designers, Mercer Consultants, had estimated that 20pc of staff should fall into the 'one' and 'two' categories, but it is now claimed that just 1.6pc of staff, or 300 individuals, received the lower grades in 2007.

The Government would only say last night that "extensive training" was provided to civil servants and that they all understood how the controversial performance-related payment system was meant to operate.

But Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar said: "There's something wrong with an organisation if it shows that everyone is always doing a good job."

(Last time I wrote a letter to the Department of Social Welfare,I eventually got a reply-6 months later.!!-they dont use computers for interacting with the public)

The Department of Finance was remaining tightlipped on the matter last night and could not confirm whether a review of the system would be taking place.

But a spokesman insisted: "When the Performance Management and Development system was introduced, both staff and management were given extensive training on how it would operate."

Guidelines say that the ratings specified by Mercer are "not binding", but "illustrate a broad pattern that could be expected at organisational level".

The 18 employees who received the 'one' grade got no pay rise, while the 285 who earned a 'two' rank received an increase but were denied a promotion, according to the figures.

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that public sector increases that Taoiseach Brian Cowen negotiated under the social partnership deal will cost the taxpayer over €1bn.

Information secured by Mr Varadkar shows that a combination of the increments, a 2.5pc increase this year and a 3.5pc rise in 2009, will cost at least €1bn -- despite an 11-month pay freeze.

Mr Varadkar told the Irish Independent yesterday that his party was currently looking at alternatives to PMDS. He revealed that the broad principle of their proposed system would involve "local managers having more autonomy" than under the current scheme.

Meanwhile, the exchequer is also losing hundreds of millions of euro due to absenteeism in the public sector.

Health Service Executive staff are taking almost twice as many sick days as the national average, while primary and secondary school teachers take almost 240,000 sick days a year.


The latest audit in the HSE shows that absenteeism is at 6.2pc, costing the executive around €150m a year.

Porters, caterers, carpenters, care assistants and other support staff were the biggest culprits, with 8pc of their working hours lost to sick leave.

Drivers, nurses aids, health promotion officers and community welfare officers were out of work for 7pc of the working year.

In education, an average €60m a year is being spent on substitute teachers due to absenteeism among permanent staff.

- Stephen O'Farrell (Irish Independent)

Wanton waste of public´s money.

Time for swift, decisive action
Sunday, November 16, 2008  By Cliff Taylor
‘The public doesn’t know anything about wasting government money. We’re the experts.” So says Sir Humphrey in the episode of Yes, Minister where he has easily frustrated an attempt to launch an economy drive in the civil service.

This week, Brian Cowen’s government will discover what its senior civil servants think should be done to improve efficiency in our public service. A committee, chaired by Dermot McCarthy, the secretary general in Cowen’s department, is to present a report to the government on what should be done in response to a yearlong study of the public service undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
The report is expected to be published before Christmas, together with a government decision on what should happen next. So, the next few weeks will tell us a lot. They will show, in particular, whether the government has finally ‘got’ the enormous problems now being faced by the private sector, and how reform of the public sector is now vital if we are to deliver affordable and efficient services without crippling the economy through higher taxes. If such reform is not delivered, then - rather than social partnership - we will have a social split.

There is huge anger building in the private sector about the ham-fisted management of much of the public service in recent years, and about how the wave of modernisation and change which has swept through private business has simply not been reflected in the public sector. It would be unfair if this anger was targeted at ordinary public servants. In general, the fault is not theirs; rather, it rests with the politicians and senior managers who have been content to divert billions in extra spending, without ensuring a commensurate improvement in services.

Thousands of words have been written about the need for such reform in recent weeks, but little enough of it has spelled out how it might be done. This is vital, for if the correct process is not put in place, then the results will not follow. This must be a two-part process. There is, unfortunately, the need to save some money quickly.

Then there is the need to develop a top-class model for delivering public services in the long term, which will be vital to our competitiveness. Below are five steps which might start the ball rolling.

1. Cancel all public pay increases next year

The budget has pencilled in €600 million for additional pay increases next year, resulting from a 3.5 per cent rise next September and normal increments.

We can’t afford these. Most private sector employees will be faced with a wage freeze or wage reductions -many others will face redundancy. If the government does not freeze public pay increases, then it will be pushed into other reductions in non-pay spending, directly affecting services.

Failure to tackle this issue in the budget was the reason why the government stepped on the political landmines of the over-70s medical card, increased class sizes and the cancellation of the cervical cancer vaccine.

As the prospective rate of inflation falls to below 2 per cent next year, imposing such a freeze is completely reasonable. In fact, a strong case could be made for pay reductions in some areas.

Two comprehensive studies have shown that public servants get paid more than their private sector equivalents. To make this comparison, you have to adjust for the different age and expertise of public and private servants. A report done by Ernst& Young Consultants for the latest benchmarking body estimated public servants were, on average, between 8 and 10 per cent better off in 2003, before consideration of pensions.

This was before the bulk of the money was paid under the first benchmarking round. Another study, by economists in Maynooth University led by JimO’Leary, put the gap at 13 per cent in 2001, again before the benchmarking increase and pensions.

2. Reinstitute ‘An Bord Snip’

In the late 1980s, Charles Haughey’s government set up a three-man committee comprising two senior civil servants (Sean Cromien and Bob Curran) and a private sector economist (Colm McCarthy). It was officially called the Expenditure Review Committee, but everyone called it An Bord Snip. It systematically went through spending, department by department, over a period of months, recommending where money could be saved. The final decision rested with the government.

After the years of profligacy, our public service system now desperately needs a similar approach. The normal civil service machinery does not seem to be able to deliver. For example, we never seem to shut programmes which have reached their sell-by date. Our civil service seems to take the same approach as Sir Humphrey, who warned it would be a sad state if ‘‘everyone went around saving money irresponsibly all over the place’’.

It is time to bring back An Bord Snip. What needs to be decided is whether this exercise confines itself to the kind of rooting-out of waste that is needed to save cash in the short term, or whether it also conducts a wider review of personnel levels across the civil and public services, which is also needed but was not done by the OECD process.

3. Extend the redundancy scheme

In the light of the outcome of this review of numbers, the government needs to consider extending the redundancy scheme, which it has already said is to be targeted at the administrative layer of the Health Service Executive.

It goes without saying that it is not a good time for redundancy schemes - with jobs elsewhere hard to come by - but a mixture of redundancy (hopefully voluntary), non-replacement and early retirement could quickly reduce numbers in areas of excess. Crucially, however, for this to work, mobility across the wider public sector needs to be greatly enhanced, a point underlined again and again in the OECD review.

Nobody is suggesting a principal officer in a government department should be sent off to become a hospital porter. But, at the moment, recruitment rules and practice inhibit managers from moving staff around, and inhibit staff from applying for jobs elsewhere in the public sector.

The OECD recommended the creation of a common public sector recruitment market, sweeping away all the current restrictions.

4. Reform public sector pensions

This will not save money in the short term, but is vital for longer-term savings. The annual cost of paying public sector pensions is now more than €1.8 billion.

When public servants employed after 1995 were forced to start making a contribution through PRSI payments, their wages were increased to make up the difference.

A government-sponsored report undertaken in 2000 recommended far-reaching changes, including a change in the extraordinarily generous indexation system, through which retired public servants benefit from pay increases given to those still working and an increase in retirement ages in some areas.

It also called for a 1 per cent contribution from all public servants to help fund the cost of indexing their future pensions for inflation. Sources say that this proposal was formally taken off the table during the negotiations on the first benchmarking round, which is breathtaking.

Unfortunately, our politicians benefit from the same ludicrously inflated pension arrangements and so are unlikely to be in a hurry to reform them. However, private sector employees should look at how their own pensions have suffered over the past year - many defined benefit schemes will be in trouble and the value of defined contribution investments have been decimated, down 30 per cent plus over the past year.

It is time to start making some serious noise about this one.

5. Introduce new management and reward structures

The OECD report featured thousands of words on this area, most of it in impenetrable bureaucratic speak.

However, a few things become clear if you wade through the pages. Our public service is not sufficiently focused on producing outputs to the public - instead it concentrates on processes and inputs. It has a poor record in areas where different departments and agencies must pull together to achieve a common goal. The introduction of any proper performance management system has been stymied by the partnership process.

In a rare bit of plain speaking, the report said it was up to politicians and public sector managers ‘‘in the driving seat’’ to put this process in place. Never was this clearer than in the first benchmarking process, where the increases of 8 per cent were first agreed before any negotiations on what level of improved productivity was expected in return. That was a complete farce, and it is now costing us at least €1.2 billion per annum.

There are now two ways that this one can go. The government can grasp the nettle and provide some real leadership. Or it can kick the whole thing aside in the direction of more partnership committees and leave us still facing into deteriorating public services and higher taxes. Are our politicians and senior public servants starting to realise this? Or, cocooned away, do they simply not comprehend the waves of pain and job losses starting to sweep across the private sector?

It is not a question of imposing matching ‘pain’ on public servants. It is an urgent question of trying to safeguard our economic future.

I am still not sure that the government realises the scale of the wave of private sector anger that will consume it if it doesn’t act - and act soon.