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'No Plan B' for government programme, warns Civil Service chief

Published 12/10/2016

Sir Malcolm McKibbin said the Executive was completely unified on the Programme for Government
Sir Malcolm McKibbin said the Executive was completely unified on the Programme for Government

The head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service has said there is no Plan B for the upcoming Programme for Government (PfG).

Achieving improved outcomes for the health and education services and boosting the economy are expected to be priorities in the blueprint.

Sir Malcolm McKibbin was making a rare public speaking appearance at a conference in Belfast and said the Executive wa s completely unified.

He added: "The first full mandate, between 2007 and 2011, was about the two biggest parties learning to work together.

"From 2011 to 2016 it was about improving delivery - and we achieved around 90% of the Programme for Government for that term.

"However, this did not have the impact that we were hoping for.

"Moving on to an outcomes-based approach was the natural next step. We did not start to prepare a Plan B, there was an absolute commitment to this new approach."

Prior to the May elections, politicians in Stormont took the decision that the next programme would be focused on outcomes, a change in direction from previous mandates.

The Northern Ireland Executive used a method known as Outcomes-Based Accountability (OBA) to draft its PfG framework, which went out for consultation over the summer - and with a published response expected soon.

OBA has seen dramatic improvements in public services and with voluntary organisations in various jurisdictions around the world, including certain states in America, Finland and Scotland and on Monday and Tuesday a conference on OBA was held at the Waterfront Hall.

The conference was hosted by the National Children's Bureau (NCB), which itself has run local programmes using OBA that have seen staggering improvements for children and young people.

Celine McStravick, director of the NCB in Northern Ireland, said: "Our organisation has seen first-hand what a focus on outcomes can achieve. Implemented correctly, this could make a huge difference to local society and the economy.

"We are delighted that the Executive has decided to take this approach, while opposition parties have also seen the potential benefits that arise from focusing on outcomes."

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