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It's bonfire of the quangos as Hogan slashes agencies

A 'BONFIRE of the quangos' has been initiated by Environment Minister Phil Hogan, who has cut the number of agencies in his department by 43pc.

Mr Hogan hopes the dissolution of An Chomhairle Leabharlanna (The Library Council) -- a move he has just announced -- will lead to savings in operating costs of €1m a year.

The Herald understands that it will also generate a "one-off windfall" for the taxpayer through the disposal of the council's prime Dublin city centre offices at 53 and 54 Upper Mount Street.



crisis

Staff at the organisation are to be redeployed in accordance with the terms of the Croke Park agreement on public sector reform.

Mr Hogan said today the number of State agencies under his department is being reduced from 21 to 12, a 43pc cut.

"I am committed to the Programme for Government's overarching objective of public sector reform by making substantial cuts to the number of State bodies and companies," the Minister said.

So far, savings in the region of €1.9m have been made in the rationalisation process and "it is anticipated that this would rise significantly", according to a statement from Mr Hogan's office.

Since the end of 2008, the number of staff employed across the department's group of agencies has gone from 951 to 833, a drop of 12pc.

"Ultimately, agency numbers are targeted to fall to 740 by the end of the rationalisation process," a spokeswoman for the Minister said.

Mr Hogan acknowledged the cuts were a "direct response to the current economic crisis" and a "necessary means of contributing to the reduction of overall public sector costs through enhanced efficiency".

An Chomhairle Leabharlanna was established by the Public Libraries Act of 1947 and it provides advice and assistance to libraries, while also advising the Minister on policy issues.

Among the other changes has been the establishment of the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency.



savings

This agency rationalises the functions of the National Building Agency, the Affordable Homes Partnership and the Centre for Housing Research.

The AHP and the CHR have been closed down and the NBA is in the process of being closed down.

The rationalisation will "achieve significant staffing and resource savings" as the HSCA will have a maximum of 42 whole time equivalent (WTE) staff members, while the other three agencies had 69.3 WTEs.

In addition, the Local Government Management Services Board and the Local Government Computer Services Board are merging as the Local Government Management Agency.

comurphy@herald.ie