Following the Report of the Independent Review Group, which identified a series of recommendations, the Department developed a comprehensive implementation plan in the form of its Programme for Change, which has been implemented over the past two and a half years in parallel with similar actions set out in the Civil Service Renewal Plan. The Review Group made recommendations in areas such as culture; leadership and structure; audit and risk management; corporate functions and IT systems; and benchmarks. Significant progress has been made in implementing these recommendations as outlined below and the work of embedding and sustaining the changes continues to be prioritised in the Department.  

The following recommendations, which mirror many of the actions set out in the Civil Service Renewal Plan, have been implemented in the Department:  

New structured governance arrangements with An Garda Síochana have also been introduced. A Governance Framework Document is in place which makes provision, amongst other things, for regular Governance meetings including tripartite meetings involving the Department, An Garda Síochána and the Policing Authority. In that context, senior officials meet monthly with An Garda Síochána at a senior management level to oversee progress on strategic and resource matters such as the Modernisation and Renewal Programme, IR issues, Garda recruitment, civilianisation, ICT, and Garda buildings. The Department also participates in the Garda ICT Oversight Board monitoring the ongoing ICT Programme which forms an integral part of the Modernisation and Renewal Programme. In addition, arrangements are in place for quarterly meetings involving the Department, An Garda Síochána and the Policing Authority in the context of the Authority's statutory functions in relation to advising the Minister with regard to Garda resources. 

In addition to the ongoing reforms in the policing area, achieving better collaborative practice and parallel to implementing the major change programme, a large volume of work has been delivered over the past 3 years on the Department's business agenda across very significant areas of public life. Major achievements include the Children and Family Relationship Act 2015, the Marriage Equality Referendum, International Protection Act 2015 incorporating a single applications procedure and implementation of the McMahon report recommendations, progressing the implementation of the EU Victims Directive, establishment of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) to meet Ireland’s international humanitarian obligations, amongst many others. 

The Review Group recommended the development of a HR strategy which is in preparation in parallel with the Civil Service HR Strategy as mentioned above. It also recommended changes to the Department’s structure which has been reviewed in recent months and a number of options for structural changes are under consideration. Given the workload on hand, it is envisaged that structural change will be implemented on a phased basis. It should be noted, however, that despite concerns expressed by the Review Group about the breadth of its responsibilities, the Department's remit has continued to expand significantly in recent years with responsibility assigned in 2015 for additional agencies including the Valuation Office and Ordnance Survey Ireland. In addition, since the Review Group reported, the Charities Regulator, the Policing Authority and the Legal Services Regulatory Authority have been all been established. Clearly all of these are necessary bodies but the Department has an expanding remit with associated risks.  

Over the next few months the Department will be taking stock of the changes implemented to date with a view to ensuring that the measures outlined above are embedded, sustained and further developed, continuing to take account of the wider process of Civil Service Renewal. This process will also examine priorities for the next phase of reform with a view to driving continuous improvement.