Learning from implementing public service reform

Public servants attending the first Goal learning day

The Goal programme involves us working with eight government departments in Ireland and Northern Ireland.  We are supporting them to implement nine different reform initiatives in the areas of health, education, mental health, children and young people, and civil service reform.  

One of the aims of the Goal programme is to share learning across participating departments and more widely about the experience of implementing reform. Government departments involved are committed to this as the programme develops.  

Learning from the programme is shared in different ways – through the Goal Advisory Group, by sharing tools and resources that emerge from the work, and during learning days.  

We held the first Goal Learning Day at the end of September in Newry. Twenty two public servants from Ireland and Northern Ireland involved in eight Goal projects took part. We focused discussions on three of the projects. One project supports collaborative working in the Irish Department of Education and Skills. A second  involves the setting up of an Innovation Lab in the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. The third project featured was the Youth Mental Health Pathfinder Project based in the Department of Health in Ireland.  

As progress on all Goal projects continues, some common themes are already emerging, including co-production and capacity building. A range of tools and resources can help policy makers to implement change, and the Youth Mental Health Pathfinder Project Team shared resources from their project, including the ’15 Days’ guide and an accompanying toolkit.  

The Goal Advisory Group met for the third time in Belfast in November. The group is chaired by Sir Peter Housden, former head of the Scottish government. The group brings together senior leaders from participating government departments in Ireland and Northern Ireland, including Secretaries General, Permanent Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries. Representatives from the Atlantic Philanthropies, which funds the programme, and the CES Board also take part in the Advisory Group.