Department to have ‘fit for purpose’ review

AN international review team has been given until Christmas to examine the performance of the Department of Finance and report on whether it is fit for purpose.

The three-man team will assess how the department and its staff operated over the past 10 years and examine the appropriateness and quality of advice they gave.

This will include the forecasts produced by civil servants and the accuracy of the risks it identified in the run-up to the implosion of the banking sector and the property market.

And the report will focus on how it reacted to the financial crisis when it first emerged, including the preparations ahead in the lead-up to the creation of the bank guarantee.

The review will be charged with investigating all advice that was disputed or ignored and the department’s ability to communicate.

The inquiry was first flagged by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan at the beginning of the summer in response to repeated criticism of the quality of the economic analysis of the department and the ability and education of its assessors.

A statement from the department said the review team will be asked to suggest ways in which the ministry can be reformed.

“The group will, based on the conclusions and lessons drawn from this assessment, make recommendations for the future development, structure and resourcing of the department.”

The group will be chaired by the former secretary general of Canada’s finance ministry, Rob Wright.

Canada was among the few countries worldwide whose regulatory system was robust enough to withstand the banking collapse.

He will be joined by Dutch public service expert, Hans Borstlap, who sat on the advisory board of the Dutch National Bank.

John Malone, the former secretary general of the Department of Agriculture, will be the third member of the group. Economist Pat McArdle will provide assistance to the three-man panel.

The group will be expected to recommend what is the best mix of staff for the department.

Mr Wright had already carried out exploratory work at the department’s headquarters and will organise sporadic interviews with key personnel over the coming months.

This will be separate to a inquiry into the department which is currently being carried out by the Public Accounts Committee.


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