I was delighted to read the proposal to re-name the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) as the Department of Health and Wellbeing (DHW), something for which I had long lobbied. This is subtle but in my view very important. It clarifies that the Department exists not just to treat people once they are unwell, but to ensure as far as possible that they remain well. This minor change in name could lead to a significant change in emphasis, towards prevention ahead of cure.
Some of the other proposed Department names, well, not so much… they are too complex and confused and they do not provide enough focus.
My own proposals would be:
Department of Agriculture and the Environment (DAE), not “Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development” – the “Rural Development” is implicit already so does not need to be added (in any case, it is not a good idea in my view for the same word to appear in two different names); it is also important that the “Rural Development” aspect does not trump the environmental from the outset.
Department of Development and Infrastructure (DDI) – this makes obvious sense, and in fact explains more clearly what the current DRD actually does.
Department of the Economy and Skills (DES) – this seems a sensible title, emphasising that Further Education will be tied to economic development (this will be challenged, however, who believe that Further Education should be merged with Education, i.e. schools).
Department of Education and Youth (DEY) – I am not sure the “and Children” is necessary, but perhaps it is to emphasise the transfer of functions from OFMDFM implicit in the name change; in my view, this point would be better made by the addition of “and Youth” rather than “and Children” to emphasise that teenagers are included (and the broad importance of youth work outside schools).
Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) – there is no need for a change here, although I have previously proposed all Departmental finance functions (i.e. for all Departments) should be merged into a single “Department of the Treasury”.
Department of Health and Wellbeing (DHW) – as noted above, this is sensible and important.
Department of Welfare and Communities (DWC), not the unwieldy and slightly ludicrous “Social Welfare, Communities and Sport” – the focus here is on welfare, with the emphasis on strong communities as a means to deliver this; it is obvious that “Welfare” is “social”, and it is obvious that “sport” is part of strong “communities”; in any case, it is unclear why sport specifically would appear in the title when none of “culture”, “arts” or “leisure” do.
There is no need to change the other two non-d’Hondt Departments, although in my more radical moments I do wonder if “OFMDFM” would be better named “Office for External Affairs“, especially if it loses its youth functions.
The important thing, of course, is that the changes happen efficiently and quickly. The way the Departments are being merged makes obvious sense, so let there be little delay!