Some 450 Department of Justice staff are changing positions as part of a major overhaul, following a number of scandals in recent years.
The process began last week with 100 staff taking up new roles. It is expected that around 350 more civil servants will move to different positions over the next five weeks as part of a “period of unprecedented change”.
Staff will now be given specific individual roles which they will be responsible for, instead of covering a more general, wide-ranging area. This will allow staff to develop expertise in particular areas.
The significant change of work practice is now being closely watched across Government as it may become the blueprint for further transformation programmes in the future.
Numerous reports as far back as Toland, which was published in 2014, recommended significant changes in how the Department of Justice is run.
In the wake of the email controversy surrounding Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe, which led to the resignation of Frances Fitzgerald as Tánaiste, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar vowed to change how the Department is run.
Last year the first Report of the Effectiveness and Renewal Group for the Department was published, recommending the radical break-up of the Department into two divisions — Criminal Justice and Civil Justice and Equality.
Criminal Justice is now responsible for areas such as crime, policing while Civil Justice and Equality, focuses on civil law reform, courts, equality, and integration.
Since mid-2018, intensive planning has been taking place in the Department for the organisational transformation.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said:
The traditional model that saw the Department organised under single subject areas, such as ‘policing’, ‘crime’ or ‘equality’ etc is changing. Instead, a functional model is being introduced where officials will focus on ‘what they do’, rather than ‘what they know’.
He added: “The change will mean that instead of, for example, a single ‘policing’, or ‘prisons’ unit having responsibility for everything in that area, there will now be functional units dealing with the key work activities of a Government department over the whole of either criminal or civil justice.”
Teams will also be broken into those who develop policy and those who look at drafting legislation.