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Promotions Review Paper

(30 Jan 2008)

Review of Promotion Policy in the Context of the Decentralisation Programme

The Promotions Paper set out the arrangements, effective from 1 June 2005, for the making of promotions and provided for the following:

With regard to unfilled posts generally, it is expected that the majority will be filled through normal CAF arrangements. Notwithstanding the above, where posts still remain unfilled, offers of promotion are being made in accordance with the following arrangements:

  • 100% of interdepartmental promotions are tagged for decentralisation;
  • where a Department is decentralising in its entirety, 100% of internal promotions within 52 weeks of the move to the new location are also tagged;
  • where an organisation is moving in part, 50% of all internal promotions include a decentralisation condition in the 52-week period prior to the move taking place.

The Promotions Paper contained an undertaking that this agreement would be reviewed by March 2007 for the next phase of decentralisation. This paper proceeds with that review.

Elements to be considered

There are five elements that arise to be considered in the context of this review as follows:

  • the continued tagging of interdepartmental panel promotions to fill unfilled posts in provincial locations;
  • the use of IDP liabilities to place Dublin based staff who are not decentralising;
  • the operation of the “52 week” rule in relation to internal promotions;
  • regional promotion arrangements into the future; and
  • regional mobility arrangements into the future.

The continued tagging of interdepartmental panel promotions to fill unfilled posts in provincial locations

The Government has recently decided that each Minister would report quarterly to the Tánaiste, who would in turn submit quarterly reports for the attention of Government on the implementation of the programme. The first such quarterly progress reports were submitted to the Tánaiste in December 2007. Among other things, these Reports

give details of the unfilled posts that need to be filled in each decentralising location. The table below summarises the situation (all figures are provisional and are being confirmed):


Grade*Decentralising PostsPotential
Unfilled Posts
CAF posts - general service   
Principal Officers2279241      
Assistant Principals56916429            
HEO/AO/3rd Sec93928330               
Executive Officers120634429
Staff Officers2439740

*The figures above exclude ICT posts

Given the level of unfilled posts to be filled, the Department is of the view that it is necessary to retain the existing tagging arrangements in relation to interdepartmental panel promotion assignments to provincial locations until the end of 2009 at the earliest, subject to delivery of accommodation to each Department based on the dates given in the recent DIG Report.

The use of IDP liabilities to place Dublin based staff who are not decentralising

The Quarterly Reports to the Tánaiste and Government also provide details of the numbers of staff who are not decentralising and who will need to released from their current department and placed in alternative posts in Dublin in 2008 and 2009. The position is summarised as follows:


 Planned Releases 2008Planned Releases 2009
Principal Officers2537
Assistant Principals3863
Higher Executive Officers44113
Executive Officers57147
Staff Officers1425

Having regard to the planned releases as shown above and to the need to ensure that staff who do not wish to decentralise are facilitated in alternative posts as soon as possible, there is a requirement to place these staff in Dublin posts. The Department is convinced that the figures supplied by Departments support the view that it is necessary to retain the existing arrangements whereby vacancies arising in Dublin and falling to be filled from the interdepartmental panels are instead filled by assignments from the Dublin arrangements with the liability transferring. It is essential that the current arrangements remain in place until the end of 2009 at the earliest, when it is expected that significant progress will be made. The position will be reviewed periodically during 2008 and 2009, in consultation with the Staff Side.

The operation of the “52 week” rule in relation to internal promotions.
The Promotions Paper (para 8) specified the arrangements for the making of internal promotions in the Implementation Phase of the Decentralisation Programme, including the proportions of internal promotions requiring a decentralisation tag to be made in the period from 52 weeks before decentralisation is due to take place.

Since the programme was announced, only the Department of Finance has invoked the rule, with the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism expected to do so shortly. It is considered that uncertainty surrounding building completions, because of planning, contractual and other factors, has militated against its effective operation. In the circumstances, consideration might now be given to disconnecting the 52-week rule from the date of the physical moves to new locations.

Instead it is proposed that the mix of proportion and time frame would be altered so as to deliver the same number of tagged internal promotions within a different timescale.

It is proposed to replace the 52-week rule with a Department-specific arrangement based on individualised proposals, formulated by Departments themselves to reflect their circumstances and requirements. Such proposals, which should be discussed at local level with staff representatives, would require the prior agreement of the CDU of the Department of Finance in each case.

Proposals for a Regional Promotions System
Following consultation with a number of Departments and Offices which have an established regional presence, it has emerged that there is significant support for future interdepartmental promotion panels to be established on a regional basis.

However, the designation of areas as regions for the purposes of establishing a workable promotions system raises complex issues and will require careful consideration. The drawing of the boundary of a particular region will be influenced not by only geographical area but also the concentration of offices, both newly-decentralised and existing (e.g. DSFA, Garda Stations, etc), in that area and the numbers of staff and grades in those offices. The establishment of the Dublin area as a distinct region post-decentralisation, and its relationship with other regions in its proximity, will also need to be considered. It is imperative that the outcome of this process will be a region-based structure that meets both the needs of organisations in filling vacancies in an efficient and timely manner and the expectations of staff to secure meaningful access to promotion opportunities in the geographical area of their choice.

While the details need to be formulated, a number of features would need to be incorporated into the new system of competitions, as follows:

  • Candidates will be allowed a limited choice [perhaps 3] of location. It is not envisaged that a new system of regional promotion competitions would include the option to tick an ‘All Locations’ box when applying for a competition;
  • Choices will be by region only;
  • Choices will become final after the closing date for applications and no subsequent changes will be permitted;
  • Refusal to accept an offer to a location within a region will result in no further offers for that location being made; and
  • Offers must be accepted or refused within a specified period [one week/5 days], following the expiry of which a failure to respond will be deemed a refusal.


Transfers in the post-decentralised civil service
In conjunction with the regional promotion system and to further facilitate mobility in the post-decentralisation environment, it is proposed to establish a standardised system for the administration of transfers. Such a Central Transfer Facility system would follow the CAF model and replace the existing mechanisms which are not uniform across the grades. The incorporation of such ‘fillable by transfer’ posts into the IDP element of an organisation’s liabilities will require further discussion with the relevant parties. Essentially, this will result in the continuation of the ‘CAF system’ for those who have volunteered to relocate but who have not yet been made an offer of transfer, as well as becoming the mechanism by which all future transfers will be processed. The issue of mobility in the Dublin region will also need to be considered.

January 2008

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Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants