Capacity and Capability in the Northern Ireland Civil Service

18 September 2019

Work in progress

We are currently undertaking work in order to produce this publication.  Details of when we aim to publish the finalised report are indicated below. 

The Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) is a permanent institution that supports the Northern Ireland Executive, the devolved government of Northern Ireland. As at 1 April 2019, it consisted mainly of 22,313 members of staff (20,725 full time equivalent staff) across nine government departments which work to develop and implement policies and help deliver services to the public of Northern Ireland.


The NICS has significantly reduced in size however since 2013, has smaller budgets and currently faces a range of other internal and external challenges including an ageing workforce, the UK’s exit from the European Union and the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly.  All of these have a direct bearing on the ability of the NICS to deliver efficient and effective outcomes for the people of Northern Ireland.  It has been recognised during the Renewable Heat Initiative enquiry that the NICS requires more capability - it needs the right people, with the right skills, in the right places at the right time.


Our work will assess the following areas:


  • The current capacity and capability in the NICS;
  • Factors contributing to capacity and capability gaps in the NICS;
  • The impact of capacity and capability gaps on service/project delivery; and
  • How the NICS intends to address capacity and capability gaps.


Our work will focus on the NICS government departments but with a view to producing a report which is sufficiently strategic to allow read across to other Northern Ireland public sector bodies.