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Are we getting value for money from our state institutions (RTE, civil service ect)?

  • 24-11-2022 2:24pm
    Registered Users Posts: 27,561 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy

    I personally have worked for the HSE in a biochemistry capacity and during my time there I observed waste, waste and more waste. There were examples of whole families working there who barley had a junior cert yet worked in the job due to well placed relatives. I have friends who are camera operators in RTE and they describe colossal waste there too. Lastly a cousin of mine works in a certain civil service department and told us that two (relatives of the manager) came in drunk following a liquid lunch and started an argument. They were just moved to a different department. What is the worst story you have heard in this regard?

    In Ireland we are facing huge rental costs, rising energy bills and other rising costs. Should we begin asking if we're getting value for money for these institutions in Ireland?



  • Registered Users Posts: 9,985 ✭✭✭Dodge

    I’d say you’re the first to ever ask OP. Fair play for such an original thought

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,561 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy

    Yep actually. One guy worked in the lab at Jame's who wasn't qualified to work in that lab. His aunt got him the job of course.

  • Registered Users Posts: 796 ✭✭✭nolivesmatter

    There's waste, inefficiency, and incompetence everywhere you look, public and state. Infuriating as it can be it just seems to be inevitable when you're working with people at scale.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 27,561 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy

    Two separate stories. The families working in admin in the civil service had no junior cert. The technician had a biology degree, but no relevant training or education for biochemical assays.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,482 ✭✭✭JayRoc

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,561 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy

    Indeed. I actually live in Germany now but the reputation they have of Irish government is corruption, nepotism and a swarm of people defending it. People like the one you quote are costing the state money because they hinder progress. I had one former colleague ask me "what exactly is wrong with getting my family a job in the HSE". Not once thinking or caring that they're denying others a fair chance.

    Here's an article featuring proof of my assertions regarding the HSE. This is an old article but colleagues still working there assure me the same thing is happening.

    The Irish Examiner has learnt that HSE staff in the mid-west region have expressed concern at how people who were taken on as temporary community welfare officers (CWOs) last year outside normal recruitment procedures were given new positions as clerical officers last month.

    It is understood at least three people, who are closely related to long-serving HSE staff, have got jobs through this process.

    “There is incredible bad feeling among staff at the moment. Morale in the HSE Mid-West region has hit rock bottom over this,” said one employee who wished to remain anonymous.

    Community welfare officers, who are in the process of switching employment from the HSE to the Department of Social Protection as part of major reform of social services, feel particularly angered over the issue as they were not permitted to apply for the vacancies at clerical officer level.

    “Some long-serving permanent staff would have liked the opportunity to relocate to another area in order to stay within the employment of the HSE but were not allowed to do so,” said another HSE worker.

    Many existing HSE staff were incensed last summer after it emerged that temporary vacancies which arose in the HSE in Limerick and Cork were largely filled by spouses, children and friends of senior HSE employees without such positions being advertised publicly.

  • Registered Users Posts: 37,512 ✭✭✭✭Boggles

    So when you said he barely had a junior cert you meant he had a degree in Biology? 😕

    Also what would preclude someone from working in admin? Do you need a masters in admin or what?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 37,512 ✭✭✭✭Boggles

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,561 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy

    No, they were lazy and required far more training that was afforded to most people just to come up to competency. Do you see a problem that could potentially arise from hiring family members as a priority over ordinary people?

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,561 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy

    There were examples of whole families working there who barley had a junior cert yet worked in the job due to well placed relatives.

    The bit above referred to the HSE. I actually posted an article about it.

    Question for you. Do you see a problem or not with hiring family members into positions paid for by the taxpayer?

  • Registered Users Posts: 37,512 ✭✭✭✭Boggles

    I see absolutely no problem with hiring family members if they are qualified and able for the job and got it appropriately.

    Also your article is from 2011. 😕

    What was the follow up, was there investigations?

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,561 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy

    Investigations? They know it happened. We don't need more money wasted. Either way your love of nepotism precludes an intelligent discussion on this issue. I remember talking to a Russian who seemed similar to your view points who defended Putin placing his family and friends in positions of power as "they were probably the best for the job". If you don't see a problem with it we can agree to disagree.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,561 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy

    Yes there's plenty like that in the civil service. Usually a well placed relative protects them from loosing their job. I'm glad I'm not paying tax in Ireland anymore TBH.

  • Registered Users Posts: 37,512 ✭✭✭✭Boggles


    I have been hired by family members in the past.

    I remember talking to a Russian who seemed similar to your view points who defended Putin placing his family and friends in positions of power as "they were probably the best for the job". If you don't see a problem with it we can agree to disagree.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,561 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy

    I'm sure you have. That's why this post touched a raw nerve I think. Best of luck to you.

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  • Your post should really state:

    Whats the worst story you've heard made up in this regard?


    Also, let me clarify for you - the HSE is not part of the Civil Service.

  • Registered Users Posts: 37,512 ✭✭✭✭Boggles

    Why would working in family businesses touch a raw nerve?

    You have an extremely strange opinion on this.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,984 ✭✭✭✭Sleepy

    Of course there's a load of waste in the public sector. There's plenty of it in a lot of the private sector too. The key issues I see during my work with public sector bodies would include:

    An inability to recruit good staff into skilled positions, public sector pay scales might be great for the low-level clerical admin positions when compared to private sector counter-parts but they're woefully uncompetitive in the technical roles. A majority of IT staff I've encountered in PS organisations are either graduates (who leave within a year or two for better pay in the private sector) or people who got placed in the IT department in the 80's because they were a hobbyist who had a Spectrum or Commodore machine at home. There are very few mid level to senior staff in these roles with relevant degree level qualifications.

    Accountability (or being seen to "dot the i's and cross the t's" so that if anything goes wrong, it can't be pinned on you) has a huge impact on any PS project I've worked on (aside perhaps from the NTMA who didn't seem to have this culture IME). This blame culture often leads to huge amounts of time wasted in the attempt to be seen to do the right thing resulting in the classic case of the "meeting to set the agenda for the meeting about the meeting" when the actual meeting could have been covered in an exchange of emails.

    Inability to shed poor performers. There are wastrels and layabouts in any large organisation but it's far, far easier for a private sector company to manage out an employee who isn't up to scratch than it is for the PS. A subset of this would be (and it's another effect of the stronger PS Unions) is the amount of employees in the PS with flexible / job-sharing / term-time type contracts which are inherently inefficient and avoided as such by the private sector. I'm not sure as to whether that's a criticism of the public sector for championing workers rights or the private sector for not measuring up in that regard though...

    The simple reality that money spent by the Public Sector is never their own. An MD / CXO of a private sector company will always negotiate harder over a daily rate for a contractor or the cost of a new software package because the outcome of that negotiation is far more likely to impact on their profit, bonus or ability to negotiate their next raise. Those tendering for projects know this and, as such, you'll often find the rates quoted to the PS will be higher than the same project might be quoted for in the private sector.

    Can the PS be more efficient? Yes. Can it ever be as efficient as the private sector? Probably not. Is any of that a good argument for out-sourcing all of these roles to the private sector or cutting their budgets so tax rates can be reduced? No.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,482 ✭✭✭JayRoc

    "Two separate stories. The families working in admin in the civil service had no junior cert. The technician had a biology degree, but no relevant training or education for biochemical assays"

    How many people in Ireland didn't sit the Junior Cert (or Inter Cert)? Very few considering everyone must attend school until the age of, what, 15?

    So two of these outliers managed to pass the civil service exam and get CS jobs. But apparently they were "lazy" not incompetent or unqualified. Ok.

  • Registered Users Posts: 109 ✭✭Tippman24

    I worked in the Revenue for years and will admit that we had our share of dossers, but in the main I would say that 99% of the staff did their job. It is the 1% that is the issue and I would say that it happens in the private sector also. I had one lad who just would not do anything, despite being passed over and not receiving increments, and it did not knock a breeze out of him. If he was on the Titanic he would not even look for a lifeboat as it would come under the concept called work. All that happened was that he was moved from section to section each time the opportunity arose. I was unfortunate to have him for a year but got him moved on. Staff in his general seating area would not answer his phone as all they got was a telling off from the caller about something that our lad was supposed to do, that never happened. The thing is that there is so much red tape involved in bringing a case that if you know that s/he will be somebody else's problem in a few months you wont pursue the matter. I had another case of a person who who would not come in, but eventually got her removed from the payroll, which caused a change in attitude with her, but the amount of work that had to be done to get to that point was unreal. Questioned about conversations with the staff member etc and what did I write down? when did i write it down?

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,561 ✭✭✭✭steddyeddy

    Yes they were indeed. Just as in Cluedo Monopoly's post about the dosser in Revenue. People can pass the exams and get selected and still be very lazy.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,505 ✭✭✭✭Mad_maxx

    Civil service is full of pompous mediocrities

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,126 ✭✭✭Floppybits

    Currently contracting into the PS, have to say the people I am working with know their stuff and I haven't come across the lazy ones yet. I am sure there are some just been fortunate so far. I will say though they even though they know their stuff, they are not exactly killing themselves also the PS seems very regimented, like if there is an issue that you notice and could fix in a 2 minutes but you can't actually do the fix because you have to report it and then it gets sent off to somewhere else for them to do the fix and instead of being done in 2 minutes, you are looking at 2 or 3 days if lucky, most of the time you have to end up chasing whoever the issue was assigned to to get it fixed, which is a bit of a pain. In saying that I have seen that happen in the private sector as well.

    As another poster pointed out above it is not the normal PS person that we should be worrying about it is the lack accountability to those in the Senior Positions like Watt that can delay improvements to services just because they may not like something about it or they don't get their own way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,482 ✭✭✭JayRoc

    Yes but my point is, what has being "lazy" got to do with apparently not having a junior cert?

    You said that you know of two people who got civil service jobs, after passing the entrance exam and presumably the interview and recruitment process, who hadn't sat their junior cert.

    Fair enough, says I. So what was your objection, that they were unqualified or incompetent? No, they were just "lazy". Anyone can be lazy. Including people with a Masters Degree. And they frequently are.

    So why bring up their education since you admitted it didn't affect the quality of their work?

    Your posts don't make sense.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 22,755 ✭✭✭✭One eyed Jack

    There were examples of whole families working there who barley had a junior cert yet worked in the job due to well placed relatives.

    That’s quite possibly the most delicious irony I’ve seen in a while 😂

    To address the broader question of whether or not the country is getting value for money from our public institutions, the answer could only be an emphatic yes. While there is undoubtedly nepotism, cronyism, mind-numbing bureaucratic nonsense, layers and layers of it in fact; none of those issues address the broader and more fundamental question of whether or not our public institutions provide value for money.

    Considering what it could cost for the same services to be provided by the private sector, we really aren’t in any position to complain about whether or not we’re getting value for money when our public institutions are as poorly funded out of public funds as they are.

    It’ll always be the case that some smartarse will point fingers and give examples of all sorts of issues, anecdotes, while ignoring the much greater picture and the levels of complexity involved in the running of the system as a whole.

    In Ireland, no less than in Germany or anywhere else, people get the levels or quality of service they pay for, and in terms of our public institutions in Ireland, we pay a lot less than an economy the size of Germany. One will undoubtedly find examples of all the same issues which plague Irish public institutions in German institutions too if they were bothered, it stands to reason that of course you’re going to be agreeing with Germans taking a dump on Ireland instead of examining their own country’s problems.