Dealing with Ulster’s Sir Humphreys’

Over the past decade many public insitutions have been subject to significant changes by the political process, however, apart from intermittent devolution the Northern Ireland Civil Service has been largely immune from reform and accountability (apart from Treasury-driven re-jigging). IPPR research among senior politicians and permanent secretaries highlights again the lack of departmental/policy/issue specialism (leading to the use of outside consultants) and a lack of accountability at senior levels as fundamental flaws with the present systems. Could the present talks be used to shake up the NICS and make it a model for reform throughout the UK? Could a shake-up help it address the NICS’s culture of ‘managing’ our problems to tackling them?