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Advisers and senior civil servants.

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  • 18-07-2018 9:34am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 12,400 ✭✭✭✭


    Political advisors, senior civil servants formulate policies for the ministers of the departments to consider obviously the 'color' of the government is a big influence.

    Why are the various advisors and senior civil servants not more well known? and in public focus, after all, they are often the ones advising on policy and should be held to account more particularly if they are paid anything from 60k to 100k.

    At the moment look at the mess public-private partnerships that are building various education establishment have become. There should be a mechanism to trace back that policy and hold them responsible for the outcome.

    After all, the electorate holds the politicians to account but if someone is essentially being paid for advice should they not be held to account for the advice they proposed.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,157 ✭✭✭srsly78


    Because they only give advice, they don't make the final decision.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,400 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice


    srsly78 wrote: »
    Because they only give advice, they don't make the final decision.

    That's a mealy-mouthed answer, why shouldn't the emergency and supporting of certain policies be traceable back to the individuals who proposed them, especially considering how well paid they are.

    They are being paid by taxpayer money.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,157 ✭✭✭srsly78


    But are not public representatives. Are you really blaming civil servants instead of politicans? Do you want elections for civil servants as well?


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,312 ✭✭✭✭noodler


    mariaalice wrote: »
    That's a mealy-mouthed answer, why shouldn't the emergency and supporting of certain policies be traceable back to the individuals who proposed them, especially considering how well paid they are.

    They are being paid by taxpayer money.


    Buck stops with the people who make the decisions.

    How often is their advice ignored BTW?

    Also FOI legislation exists. So if there is something about a specific policy formulation that you want to see then ask away.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,596 ✭✭✭Hitman3000


    I suppose it would be interesting to know if when drawing up policy or proposing policy what effect it would have on the advisors.
    What springs to my mind as an example was the raid on private pensions by the government, it would be enlightening to know where the individual's responsible for this dreaming up this proposal safe from its effects.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 12,400 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice


    srsly78 wrote: »
    But are not public representatives. Are you really blaming civil servants instead of politicans? Do you want elections for civil servants as well?

    No not at all but it would lead to a different type of individual in senior or semi-senior position if there was a certain amount of responsibility and public scrutiny, including being able to say the advice was not welcomed.

    The public accounts committee is not full public scrutiny.

    The special advisors should definitively be open to more scrutiny.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,312 ✭✭✭✭noodler


    Hitman3000 wrote: »
    I suppose it would be interesting to know if when drawing up policy or proposing policy what effect it would have on the advisors.
    What springs to my mind as an example was the raid on private pensions by the government, it would be enlightening to know where the individual's responsible for this dreaming up this proposal safe from its effects.

    But were the three rounds of pay cuts on public servants (including a huh her pension contribution) were also "dreamt up" by advisors?

    Surely you can see the cherry picking nature of your example.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,400 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice


    For example, all advisors should be named on the minister's website along with there qualifications and a photography of them. The same with parliamentary assistants.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,596 ✭✭✭Hitman3000


    noodler wrote:
    Surely you can see the cherry picking nature of your example.


    I think the 200k that lost their jobs in the recession would have opted for a pay cut instead. Nice deflection btw.
    Although I will bite, the pay cuts as you describe them were an economic necessity. Many of those same cuts are being reversed.
    Still doesn't answer the question I posed though.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,312 ✭✭✭✭noodler


    Hitman3000 wrote: »
    I think the 200k that lost their jobs in the recession would have opted for a pay cut instead. Nice deflection btw.
    Although I will bite, the pay cuts as you describe them were an economic necessity. Many of those same cuts are being reversed.
    Still doesn't answer the question I posed though.

    OK.

    The raising of taxes was also an economic necessity. Thus the temporary tax on pension funds the contributions to which had been the subject of massive tax reliefs for years.

    I'm not sure what your question is, if it's a policy you support then it's "economic necessity", if it's one you don't support then you look for a conspiracy.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,596 ✭✭✭Hitman3000


    noodler wrote:
    The raising of taxes was also an economic necessity. Thus the temporary tax on pension funds the contributions to which had been the subject of massive tax reliefs for years.


    The raid on private pension funds is not temporary, the money raided will never be gained back and returns will be lower than should have been. As for massive tax relief I assume you wish to cherry pick the higher private pensions to make your point? Btw the tax relief is deferred tax.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,312 ✭✭✭✭noodler


    Hitman3000 wrote: »
    The raid on private pension funds is not temporary, the money raided will never be gained back and returns will be lower than should have been. As for massive tax relief I assume you wish to cherry pick the higher private pensions to make your point? Btw the tax relief is deferred tax.

    Temporary in terms of how long it lasts.

    No taxes are temporary in the way you have described. Strange way to look at it.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,596 ✭✭✭Hitman3000


    noodler wrote:
    Temporary in terms of how long it lasts.


    Tell that to the private pensioners who have seen their pensions drop as a result of Noonans smash and grab.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,302 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    Hitman3000 wrote: »
    The raid on private pension funds is not temporary, the money raided will never be gained back and returns will be lower than should have been. As for massive tax relief I assume you wish to cherry pick the higher private pensions to make your point? Btw the tax relief is deferred tax.


    The pension levy on public service pensions isn't temporary either, it has been made permanent in recent legislation.

    And that permanent drain on their own salaries was dreamed up by civil servants.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,596 ✭✭✭Hitman3000


    blanch152 wrote:
    The pension levy on public service pensions isn't temporary either, it has been made permanent in recent legislation.


    The value of the pension is in no way reflected in the contribution made by the employee.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,302 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    Hitman3000 wrote: »
    The value of the pension is in no way reflected in the contribution made by the employee.


    And why should it? In every other decent pension scheme out there, the employer makes a contribution as well as the employee. Furthermore, because it is a group scheme rather than an individual scheme, the individuals who live long enough to get a pension and those who then live long enough to avail of it, benefit from the early deaths of those who don't.

    There is a singular lack of understanding out there about the costs of a civil service pension.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,596 ✭✭✭Hitman3000


    blanch152 wrote:
    There is a singular lack of understanding out there about the costs of a civil service pension.


    There's not actually. Pensions in this sector is unfunded. It is paid for out of day to day spending.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,400 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice


    Moderators any chance of bringing it back on topic it's not about public v private pensions.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Hitman3000 wrote: »
    There's not actually. Pensions in this sector is unfunded. It is paid for out of day to day spending.

    this is taken apart in fifty other threads. i think you may even have spouted this rubbish last week in one if them.

    "what public servants pay towards their pension doesnt count for the point im making" is an accurate summary of your attitude and on this topic you can therefore be dismissed out if hand imo


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,596 ✭✭✭Hitman3000


    "what public servants pay towards their pension doesnt count for the point im making" is an accurate summary of your attitude and on this topic you can therefore be dismissed out if hand imo


    Dismissed because you have no coherent response only a snide accusation and a wish to seek to avoid a proper reply. Btw feel free to post a link to the comment you claim I made.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,596 ✭✭✭Hitman3000


    mariaalice wrote:
    Moderators any chance of bringing it back on topic it's not about public v private pensions.


    Apologies for derailing your thread, my question related to did the advisors/policy makers suffer the consequences of the advice that they sought to have enacted. My example was the private pension grab, no answer was forthcoming and still isn't. I'll leave it at that.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,302 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    Hitman3000 wrote: »
    Apologies for derailing your thread, my question related to did the advisors/policy makers suffer the consequences of the advice that they sought to have enacted. My example was the private pension grab, no answer was forthcoming and still isn't. I'll leave it at that.


    I suspect you are only asking the question thinking you know the answer already, but I will actually give you an honest answer.

    Firstly, a general point. Here is the Code of Conduct for Civil Servants:

    http://www.sipo.ie/en/Codes-of-Conduct/Civil-Servants/

    It pretty much sets out the standards of behaviour and ethics expected of civil servants, requiring them to be impartial in issues such as the one you raise. If you believe that there is a problem with a particular civil servant or group of civil servants, you should raise that issue with the relevant Minister.

    Secondly, there is no doubt that some of those responsible for the private sector pension levy were adversely affected by it. Believe it or not, most civil servants are part of a multi-person household, and despite your obvious low opinion of civil servants, many of them manage to secure partners and spouses that work outside the civil service, so their household income will have been adversely affected. That is obvious to anyone who spends more than a minute thinking about the issue. Aside from that, many of the advisers are technically not civil servants, and may not have access to a civil service pension, and will therefore have private pension arrangements affected by this decision.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,400 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice


    blanch152 wrote: »
    I suspect you are only asking the question thinking you know the answer already, but I will actually give you an honest answer.

    Firstly, a general point. Here is the Code of Conduct for Civil Servants:

    http://www.sipo.ie/en/Codes-of-Conduct/Civil-Servants/

    It pretty much sets out the standards of behaviour and ethics expected of civil servants, requiring them to be impartial in issues such as the one you raise. If you believe that there is a problem with a particular civil servant or group of civil servants, you should raise that issue with the relevant Minister.

    Secondly, there is no doubt that some of those responsible for the private sector pension levy were adversely affected by it. Believe it or not, most civil servants are part of a multi-person household, and despite your obvious low opinion of civil servants, many of them manage to secure partners and spouses that work outside the civil service, so their household income will have been adversely affected. That is obvious to anyone who spends more than a minute thinking about the issue. Aside from that, many of the advisers are technically not civil servants, and may not have access to a civil service pension, and will therefore have private pension arrangements affected by this decision.

    That's a really good answer, but in general, how do ideas arise for example privatisation which I personally don't have an issue with as long as there is a lot of ring-fencing around it. Those promoting the idea/ policy should be open to scrutiny. The civil servants are in a different category but special advisors are not, how many people are aware of who they are beyond media gossip or other in groups.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Hitman3000 wrote: »
    Dismissed because you have no coherent response only a snide accusation and a wish to seek to avoid a proper reply. Btw feel free to post a link to the comment you claim I made.

    genuine apologies if you werent in the "civil service- stick or twist" thread a few days back making these very arguments. i should have checked that.

    nothing snide, however, in my characterisation of your general thrust. if one wants to call public service pension schemes 'unfunded' as if that is an accurate description simply because the contributions arent treated as they would be in an actual pension fund, but then not be careful to acknowledge the differences and the individual contributions made under the public sector, yeah that is pretty rubbish stuff tbh.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,302 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    mariaalice wrote: »
    That's a really good answer, but in general, how do ideas arise for example privatisation which I personally don't have an issue with as long as there is a lot of ring-fencing around it. Those promoting the idea/ policy should be open to scrutiny. The civil servants are in a different category but special advisors are not, how many people are aware of who they are beyond media gossip or other in groups.

    Civil servants generally don't promote particular ideas or policies.

    Major policy areas are usually opened to public consultation. Have a look at the Project 2040 website for an example of the extent of this consultation.

    http://npf.ie/pre-draft-consultation/

    The ideas from the public and from interest groups are usually distilled down into a smaller number of options which the Minister and his/her advisers make final decisions. The civil servants usually set out options for decision-makers with clearly laid-out advantages, disadvantages, costs, risks etc. for each option.

    The same would apply in smaller policy decisions, but without the same extent of public consultation, sometimes on a smaller scale, sometimes not at all.

    As for who the advisers are, the list is on this page:

    https://www.per.gov.ie/en/special-advisers-pay/


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,778 ✭✭✭✭expectationlost


    mariaalice wrote: »
    For example, all advisors should be named on the minister's website along with there qualifications and a photography of them. The same with parliamentary assistants.
    agree with OP that they should be more well known

    https://whodoeswhat.gov.ie/ for senior civil servants


    notices of appointment are posted to the http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/statutory.html


    contracts and qualifications can be found here http://opac.oireachtas.ie/liberty/opac/search.do?=advisors&=special&queryTerm=special%20advisers&mode=BASIC&operator=AND&title=Title%20...%20enter%20here&publicationYear=Year&yearTo=Year%20To&catalogAuthors=Author&mainSubject=Subject&resourceCollection=All&=undefined&modeRadio=KEYWORD&activeMenuItem=false


    and names and pay added here https://www.per.gov.ie/en/special-advisers-pay/ as blanch pointed out


    TDs asks PQ about them https://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2018-01-31a.157

    newspapers occasionally do profiles

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/who-runs-ireland-1.1683684

    http://www.thejournal.ie/irish-government-ministers-special-advisers-names-salaries-2016-2573368-Jan2016/

    journos don't like focusing on them because they get info from them too and want to say on their good side.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,312 ✭✭✭✭noodler


    Gas the demands people make about information that's freely available if they spent more time researching than ranting.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,778 ✭✭✭✭expectationlost


    mariaalice wrote: »
    For example, all advisors should be named on the minister's website along with there qualifications and a photography of them. The same with parliamentary assistants.

    a list of parliamentary assistants was FOI'd a few years back https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AlV6jFjykyK6dGRnQVJ0WXNtNGdoYUZRVFItTTU0emc#gid=0 and could be again, it should be released automatically though


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,400 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice


    noodler wrote: »
    Gas the demands people make about information that's freely available if they spent more time researching than ranting.

    I know where to find the information that is not the point the fact that a foi had to uses to get information at one point is a perfect example.

    Why the fear of total openness?. All concerned are being paid by public money

    I do understand the concern of how someone can become the focus, as Tony O Brian did that is not accountability.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 27,302 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    mariaalice wrote: »
    I know where to find the information that is not the point the fact that a foi had to uses to get information at one point is a perfect example.

    Why the fear of total openness?. All concerned are being paid by public money

    I do understand the concern of how someone can become the focus, as Tony O Brian did that is not accountability.


    I am not sure that the government can continue to provide the information as heretofore given the changes in data protection in relation to GDPR. The civil servants and advisers are entitled to their privacy too.


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