Most of you will have come across a SWOT analysis before. It's one of those buzz words used in training modules about running businesses, projects and analysis. It stands for:
The objectivity of a SWOT analysis is to undergo a strategic review of the business, project or person. This review of internal and external factors surrounding the object, allows the reviewers to come up with a viable and comprehensible plan on maximising its potential.
A SWOT analysis is not just for businesses. It can be used for NGO's and governments too, and that's why I'm raising it. For effect, I'm going to concentrate on one government department currently in the spotlight, and that is the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
From its own website, this is what the department claims to do:
On their website there is a list of high-level objectives that the department would like to achieve including:The Department of Children and Youth Affairs focuses on harmonising policy issues that affect children in areas such as early childhood care and education, youth justice, child welfare and protection, children and young people's participation, research on children and young people, youth work and cross-cutting initiatives for children.
- Monitor and evaluate performance through strong governance and accountability systems in respect of the responsibilities of the Department and its agencies.
- Collaborate with stakeholders, including across Government, in monitoring and promoting the physical, emotional and economic well-being of children and young people and reducing inequalities.
The objectives I highlight specifically down to recent events. It's clear after the recent RTE investigative program, that there are massive issues in relation to the regulation of crèches. But we all know that this is the tip of the iceberg. There are also serious issues on the regulation of other areas of pre-school care for children such as au-pairs and childminders.
These issues are not new. These issues have been around for quite some time. When Frances Fitzgerald was made Minister she must have sat down with her department heads to plan the road ahead. Obviously a SWOT analysis was not done. How do we know this? Well, any SWOT analysis would have shown the weakness in a poorly unregulated childminder sector, it would have spotted an opportunity for the minister to stamp her authority on the department and justify her position, it also would have highlighted the threat to the minister if nothing was done about the issue.
Now I don't have an issue with Fitzgerald, I am merely using her to highlight a failing of many government minsters and their departments. You can excuse the senior departments as they have red-line issues foisted upon them by the Troika. But ministries like Children and Youth Affairs have no such excuse. Fundamentally, we have a complete failure by the minster and her department to do their jobs.
Becoming a minister is a privilege. It pays a considerable amount of money to the minister for that privilege. In addition, the minister will receive a considerable pension for her endeavours. I'll leave you with words from the minister herself in an answer to the crisis:
The minister has been office for nearly 2.5 years.I accept responsibility for being absolutely clear about what the problems are, how to address them, having a vision and a plan to deal with those issues which were raised. That is what has been happening behind the scenes in relation to this issue.