I won’t dwell on this in detail except to say that it is unusual to see a department head in either the British or Irish civil service step aside (or pushed) on foot of a report (PDF) published into their department by the Minister.
The report’s summary bullets are worth ripping, since I suspect they apply right across struggling organisations across the public and private sectors…
- A closed, secretive and silo driven culture.
- Significant leadership and management problems.
- Ineffective management processes and structures to provide strong strategic oversight of the key agencies both to hold them accountable and to ensure their effectiveness is maximised.
- A Management Advisory Committee (MAC) that is neither sufficiently focused on key strategic priorities that impact on the Department and its key agencies nor ensuring that emerging issues with agencies or with political consequence are identified and managed proactively.
- Relationships with key agencies tend to be informal and unstructured without strong central management from the Department.
It’s not hard to imagine that a similar exercise conducted in almost any other department south or north would come up with a similar diagnosis. The question is what does the government plan to do about it?
The recommendations are unhelpfully vague…
- A programme for fundamental and sustained organisational and cultural change and renewal.
- A change in the leadership and management routines, systems and practices to underpin both the performance of the Department and key agencies.
- An upfront commitment to additional skilled and specialised resources and training and development programmes to lead and drive the change programme.
- A change in the scope and approach of the MAC to provide better strategic management and support.
- A structured approach to how agencies and key relationships are managed to hold them more accountable and drive better performance across the broader justice landscape.