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Action Plan for Designing Better Public Services Launched

Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, has launched the Government’s Action Plan for Designing Better Public Services – a roadmap for embedding design in the Public Service. The new Action Plan provides a tangible, practical and comprehensive pathway for how Government will integrate design principles across the Public Service leading to more people-centred, inclusive, user-friendly and effective public services.

A design approach to delivering services represents a transformation in service delivery which involves putting the needs of service-users first. Design-led thinking encourages a focus on creating services that resonate with people’s needs, harnessing technology to meet those needs and aligning the capabilities of Public Service organisations across Ireland. The design mindset also enables a more responsible and sustainable approach to the way the Public Service works.

The Action Plan follows Designing our Public Services – Design Principles for Government in Ireland, launched in 2022, which laid the foundation for a design approach in Government. The plan will support the delivery of the Better Public Services transformation strategy, which commits the Public Service to delivering evidence-informed policy and services designed for and with the public and tackling big societal issues and delivering seamless user experiences through digital and innovation at scale.

The plan sets out a prioritisation of actions to embed and grow design across the Public Service over the next two years. It is focussed on three core themes of Demonstrating Design Commitment, Increasing Design Capability and Fostering a Design Culture.

Over the course of the plan, Government will demonstrate commitment to the design approach by providing the necessary resources required to deliver real progress and change. Design tools, training and knowledge exchange resources will be provided to Public Servants to ensure opportunities to contribute individual talents and perspectives to service design and delivery are realised. The plan also aims to foster a design culture within the Public Service, embedding design in the everyday language and behaviours of organisations.

Examples of projects utilising a design-led approach, already in development, include the ‘Life Events’ programme focussed on delivering seamless cross-Government services at important life stages and the provision of a ‘Digital Wallet’ for important documents and qualifications such as the driving licence.

• Specific national actions include:

o The establishment of a dedicated design unit to support public service bodies to embed design in their organisations.

o The development of a national framework for procuring design services, which will encourage greater participation by small and medium enterprises.

o The creation of tailored, useful and practical resources and assets to enhance expertise and enable effective use of design across the public sector.

o The establishment of formal learning pathways to upskill and reskill current public service staff.

o The creation of design-specific job descriptions that align with current public sector grades and competencies to ensure that design expertise is recognised and integrated into job functions.

Speaking in the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), where the Action Plan was launched, Minister Donohoe said, “we are on a path towards an exciting transformation in the way Government delivers services to our people – putting their needs first and committing our Public Service to work together to create more intuitive and seamless experiences for the public.”

“Our vision is to position Ireland as global leader in design-led public service delivery. A design approach enables us to meet the challenges and opportunities we face more effectively, with empathy, insight and imagination. Through insight-driven decision-making, experimentation and co-creation with service users we will drive the delivery of better public services with the aim of improving the lives of all the people we serve.”

CEO of the Institute of Designers in Ireland, Charlotte Barker said, “now is the time to navigate uncertainty with tried and tested design methodology that puts humanity at its heart. Designers are well equipped with the tools and experience to support Government agencies in embracing a design mindset, and we very much welcome the Action Plan as a key approach to embedding design in public service.”

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