Building State Capacity In Ireland


The impact of the global financial crisis in Ireland exposed many deficiencies in policy formation, coordination, and implementation. Successive official reports exposed shortcomings in the official capacity for policy evaluation, risk assessment, and regulatory enforcement, and problems in the institutional design of policy- making and implementation.

Policy responses to crisis were strongly shaped by the need to comply with the terms of the EC-ECB-IMF loan programme (2010-2013). European policy initiatives mean that Irish macroeconomic policy and public sector practices are required to be much more accountable than previously to EU oversight and monitoring.

The consequences for the structure and organization of Ireland’s political institutions have been far-reaching. For example, unwinding financial sector crisis involved the state deeply in property and banking responsibilities, in which the National Asset Management Agency plays a central role. Remodelling fiscal policy resulted in the creation of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council. A new government department, Public Expenditure and Reform, undertook a comprehensive spending review and has sought to overhaul work practices in a smaller public service. The Economic Management Council has altered long-standing cabinet policy-making routines.

These and other changes have implications not only for the effectiveness but also for the accountability of public policy.

This research programme brings together scholars working in the disciplines of political science, economics, sociology, public administration, law, public health, among others, to analyse the consequences of these developments and to consider their implications for the structure and future development of the public sector. The Irish State Administration Database www.isad.ie is a key research resource for many aspects of this work.

Among the topics currently under investigation are these:

  • The changing profile of the Irish political and administrative executive.
  • Assessment of the current phase of public sector reform.
  • Implications of reform initiatives for public sector skills development.
  • The tension between centralizing and decentralizing pressures in policy coordination and governance.
  • Efficiency consequences of the move toward shared services.
  • Implications of agency rationalization for policy capabilities.
  • The consequences of budget retrenchment for the scope of state activity.
  • The design and construction of new state competences such as child protection and family policy.
  • The evolution of the state’s role in housing policy, labour market and social protection policy, health care reform, and other policy areas.
  • The development and implications of an activist labour market policy.
  • The role of the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service.
  • The state's role in evaluating and mitigating risks of all kinds.
  • The state’s role in improving quality of public services (health, social care and education).

  

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