Leading academic and financial commentator Colm McCarthy is to head up a new body aimed at curbing government spending.
Colm was last week's keynote speaker at the Institute of Project Management's annual Graduate of the year awards. When introducing him, Ed Naughton, the Institute's Director General said:
"I am delighted that Colm is speaking this year. It is my personal belief that project management is a very significant contributor to productivity and national competitiveness. There is quite a number of economic commentators in the market-place-some impartial, some biased - who have a very strong influence on the mindset of the public whether it's 'Joe the Plumber or Paddy the Plasterer'. Projects account for at least 20% of the world's value generation. In essence, the percentage is considerably greater as the 20% relates primarily to capital projects.
Unfortunately and inexplicably, project management is not on the radar of these economists. A definite lacuna of understanding needs to be bridged. If such influential commentators could be bought into and promote the benefits of project management, then it would vastly improve the chances of organizations embracing, valuing and utilizing the discipline."
The group is set to be formally established today at a Cabinet meeting. Also likely to join is former governor of the Central Bank, Maurice O'Connell.
Mr McCarthy and his colleagues will be tasked with identifying targets for public purse savings -- an undertaking which didn't prove at all difficult for him as a commentator. His group will examine spending and staffing across the public sector.
A spokesman for the Department of Finance said last night that the group would be charged with "a serious examination of public expenditure, both in terms of numbers and programmes".
An economics lecturer at UCD since 2005, Mr McCarthy is best known for expressing his direct and uncompromising views on radio and TV.
Mr McCarthy, formerly of economic consultants Davy Kelleher McCarthy -- which he helped set up -- has wide experience of government and worked with several departments. He has an accountancy background, and also has experience in private sector. He was involved in the Expenditure Review Group established in 1987 by the government of Charles Haughey and Finance Minister Ray MacSharry. He also worked in the Central Bank, and at the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute).
Prime minister Brian Cowen is likely to pass the new group the report of a task force on public service reform. Current finance minister Mr Lenihan said the essential issue facing the Government was the need to reduce a huge overhang in public expenditure, adding: "We can't continue to borrow for day to day purposes."