New Unit to improve Government communications with citizens
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed today that the Government is establishing a Strategic Communications Unit.
The Taoiseach said:
It is our duty to ensure that the work of government is clearly understood by everyone who is charged with delivering it, and by everyone who is affected by it. Good communications is a virtue and there currently exists a deficit when it comes to awareness of peoples entitlements and how their money is being spent and what Government is actually doing.
Communication across government is an absolute prerequisite for effective implementation of policy initiatives. Communication to our citizens is an essential public service: the public has a right to know what their government is doing on their behalf, and why. That is why this new unit is being set up within civil service structures.
A democracy is only as strong as the relationship of trust between government and citizens. Communication is key to that relationship. I am determined, therefore, that our communications internally within government institutions and externally to the public will adhere to highest international standards.
The work of government is increasingly complex. Many policies and initiatives require the combined efforts of multiple departments and agencies to ensure delivery. Communication goes to the core of successful collaborative endeavour.
This is a new public service initiative. It does not affect the work of the Government Press Office which will continue to deal with day to day media queries.
The new Unit is to be established in the Department of the Taoiseach. With the citizen at the centre of its work, its focus will be to simplify Government communications and to increase efficiencies across the public sector when dealing with the Irish public.
Specifically, there will be three main strands to the work of the unit:
- Streamlining communications for citizens
- Develop and deliver major cross-Government communication campaigns
- Improve communications capacity across Government
There are hundreds of people in the Irish public service working in Government communications. To help improve effectiveness, efficiency and cross-Government collaboration, this Unit will work to increase the skills capacity of those working in this area.
As part of this work, a network of communications officials across Government will be developed to share best practice and develop a continuing professional development (CPD) programme for Government communications.
Led by a Director at Assistant Secretary Grade, the team will be staffed from existing resources where possible and will report directly to the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach
It is planned that there will be no overall increase in the exchequer funding for communications as a result of the formation of the Unit and resources will be drawn from existing allocations. It is also envisaged that the work of the Unit will deliver savings and efficiencies in communication expenditure for Government, as has been achieved in other countries.