Ireland’s Dept of Social Protection cited as a change leader in global IT report

12 Feb 2013

It may sound incredible to the ears of recession-weary citizens of a country paying a higher price than their neighbours for Europe’s debt mountain, but an Irish Government department has actually been cited by an international report as an example of how the public-sector organisations can accelerate modernisation and reform.

The latest BearingPoint Institute report says that in a sector that has traditionally been risk averse and slow to change, Ireland’s Department of Social Protection (DSP) has boosted service at a time of peak demand and restricted public-sector recruitment.

“There is broad agreement that economies everywhere need to accelerate public-sector modernisation and reform as a key element of economic recovery. The challenge has been how to achieve this and this report sees Ireland’s DSP as a role model for public sector organisations in other countries,” commented Hughes Verdier, public services industry leader at BearingPoint Europe.

“The value of agile Government is in helping Government administrations both plan and implement policy change and reform faster, and within their term of office,” said Andrew Montgomery, head of public services, BearingPoint Ireland.

Modernisation programme at Department of Social Protection

The burden on Ireland’s Department of Social Protection over the last few years has been constantly increasing, to the extent that it now processes over 87m payment transactions a year.

Each week, about 1.4m people receive a social welfare payment and, when qualified adults and children are included, a total of 2.1m people benefit from payments.

This necessitates annually processing more than 2.3m applications; 450,000 assessments conducted by inspectors; more than 980,000 control reviews; 6.8m telephone calls, as well as more than 150,000 applications for new Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers.

The BearingPoint Report said the department has managed this modernisation programme through a combination of management and technology initiatives, all of which focused on improving the agility of their business operations, systems and people.

“This has allowed the department to respond more rapidly to Government policy and provide more cost effective services to citizens,” said Montgomery.

The report said Government organisations in other countries could learn from the DSP’s service delivery modernisation programme which has been implemented over the last 10 years as it included many innovative approaches and methods to solving the business and technology challenges at hand.

“This was a new way of doing things involving major business and technology transformation right across our business,” said Niall Barry, IT director, DSP.

“Our staff deserve great credit for buying into it and helping to make it happen,” Barry added.

Change management image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years