Friday, February 14, 2014

Twenty first century assessment - no time for group think!

"...nobody trusts people to investigate themselves. It’s just not the way things are done any more.” Minister Leo Varadkar
"...little value or importance can be attached in reality to self-assessment." Retiring Coimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin

In his final address to the Oireachtas as Coimisinéir Teanga on 23rd of January 2014, Seán Ó Cuirreáin made the following point when discussing the states the 20 year strategy on Irish (2010-2030) published in December 2010.

Self assessment!
Dr Leo Varadker: "..nobody trusts
people to investigate themselves!"
"Is the Strategy being implemented? I don’t know. And with all due respect to you as a subcommittee, I believe that you don’t know either as there is no independent audit or review being conducted on the implementation of the Strategy.
It is self-assessment only and from the experience of my Office in auditing the language schemes of State bodies over the past 10 years, little value or importance can be attached in reality to self-assessment.
In any area of life, it is difficult to depend on any review by stakeholders with vested interests, but, on the other hand, research based evidence is of immense value. We have also learned a valuable lesson over the years – that there is a basis for the phrase “what gets measured gets done!”
Unless audits and independent assessments are carried out I don’t believe anyone can give any guarantees as to implementation."

Not the modern way!
Glancing through some old newspapers, prior to recycling, I came across this statement, which, although it is dealing with another matter, makes the same point with perhaps stronger emphasis. In talking about the matter of the quashing of traffic penalty points discussed earlier this year, Fine Gael Minister for Transport, Dr Leo Varadkar, criticised the handling of the affair.

A report in the Irish Times, (4th February 2014) states, "While the matter was the subject of investigations within the Garda, Mr (sic) Varadkar suggested that internal inquiries lack credibility." He is quoted directly as saying “It’s just the 21st century Ireland that we live in – nobody trusts people to investigate themselves. It’s just not the way things are done any more.”

One hopes that his forward thinking penetrates into the deepest recesses of the usually impenetrable bureaucracy that runs this country. A bureaucracy run by civil servants whose attitude to the language has moved up a notch or two from "passive inaction on their part one of active undermining," to quote a retired former higher Civil Servant.

As Seán Ó Cuirreáin stated: "Groupthink has no place in matters as important as the survival of a language."

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