The civil service are the public officials who advise and assist Government Ministers in the running of their Departments. The Constitution does not mention the civil service but it is vital to the functioning of the state.
The civil service has three main functions:
- It advises the Government on policy
- It helps prepare and draft new legislation and
- It helps the Government to run the country according to the legislation passed by the Oireachtas.
Each Department of State has a permanent staff consisting of administrative, professional, specialist and technical employees. The head civil servant of each Department is the Secretary General, who is recommended by the Minister for that Department and appointed for a period of 7 years by the Government. Below the Secretary General, there are a number of Assistant Secretaries, who are each responsible for specific areas of work in the Department. Below the Assistant Secretaries, there are many officials at varying levels of seniority.
Recruitment to the civil and public service
The Public Appointments Service provides recruitment, assessment and selection services for the civil service. They also provide recruitment and consultancy services to local authorities, the Health Service Executive , An Garda Síochána and other public bodies.
The Commission for Public Service Appointments is a separate body. The Commission sets standards, which it publishes as codes of practice, for recruitment and selection to the civil service, An Garda Síochána and a number of public service bodies, including the Health Service Executive.