IMPACT members to be affected by state agency changes

17th November 2011

The Government’s plans to rationalise state agencies are likely to affect hundreds of IMPACT members in state agencies, the civil service, health, local authorities and education.

A total of 48 state agencies (often referred to as ‘Quangos’ – quasi-autonomous non-government organisations) are being rationalised, which means they will either merge with other agencies or be rolled back into their ‘parent’ civil service departments. Others remain under review.

The proposals, announced today as part of the comprehensive spending review, include plans to abandon decentralization and reduce the number of public servants to 282,500 by 2015.

Measures to reduce the number of VECs from 33 to 16 had already been announced, and IMPACT has been actively engaged in negotiating the process of change, including redeployment measures, with employers.

The immediate effects of the rationalisation of agencies are unclear. However, the Government’s continuing commitment to the terms of the Croke Park agreement, reiterated during today’s press conference, means there will be no compulsory redundancies and that any redeployment will be in line with the parameters already contained in the agreement.

Among the other state agencies where IMPACT members are working, and which are likely to see changes take place under the latest proposals include:

Services & Enterprise

  • Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI) is set to be merged with the Valuation Office and the Property Registration Authority.
  • The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) will merge with the Commission for Aviation Regulation.
  • The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and the Commission for Communication Regulation (ComReg) will be merged.
  • The National Library and National Museum: The Department of public expenditure and reform will examine shared services and the board structure of both bodies.
  • The Radiological Protection Institute (RPI) will merge with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Local Government

  • The Library Council will be subsumed into an existing public body.
  • The National Education and Welfare Board (NEWB) is set to be reviewed in the context of the establishment of the new Child and Family Support Agency.
  • The Local Government Audit Service will merge into the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General

Civil Service

  • The Forensic Science laboratory will be merged into the State laboratory.

Health & Welfare

  • The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) will be incorporated into a new Patient Safety Authority.

Speaking in response to the proposals today, National Secretary Matt Staunton said: “These proposals have been, to some extent, anticipated and there are very few surprises. However, some of the merger proposals do raise questions. For example, IMPACT had made a strong case for retaining Ordnance Survey Ireland as a separate body, while the Department has now proposed to merge OSI with the Valuation Office and the Property Registration Authority” he said.

Matt added, “This is a highly questionable decision when you consider the strides made by OSI since its departure from the Civil Service. It has reduced the number of staff, embraced and increased its use of very advanced technology, and developed a successful commercial function in a highly competitive market. Merging it with these two bodies will place an unnecessary restraint on an organisation which has more than proved its value.

“However, the recent discovery that the CEO had not taken the public service pay cut, and that the board had approved this, takes the spotlight away from the achievements of the professional staff at OSI. Who knows whether this influenced the Department’s opinion on the merger proposal?” he said.