Civil servants are not exactly renowned for putting their heads above the parapet. And they often appear to go numb from sitting on fences all the time.
Therefore it was quite refreshing to hear Michael Brennan from the Department for Finance and Personnel get hot under the collar about the Northern Ireland economy.
Mr Brennan, the head of strategic policy within the department, told the Assembly finance committee that the economy will slip further behind other parts of the UK without radical change.
He insisted the productivity gap will widen unless skills shortages and an over-reliance on retail sector jobs are addressed.
Mr Brennan predicted that if there is no change in the province's economic policy then " it will only get worse" for Ulster.
"If we continue our current policies the way they are I think we will fall further and further behind... all the growth in employment has been, for example, in retail and wholesale, where salaries are much lower than the Northern Ireland average," he pointed out.
He called for a change in the skills agenda and a rethink of the Executive's investment strategy.
Basically, what he was saying is that Ulster must help itself in the wake of the Varney Review, which effectively accepted the far-from-satisfactory status quo.
And the DFP official is absolutely right. The quo must go.