Assistant professor of Strategic Design in the Department of Design Innovation, Trevor Vaugh, was recently appointed as co-chair of the Design in Government working group under the remit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. As part of this work, Trevor led a team of experts in the design and development of Ireland’s first set of design principles for government in Ireland and the accompanying report “Designing Our Public Services” - Design Principles for Government in Ireland, which was launched on Friday 28th October during the ‘Design in Government — Impact for All’ conference. The conference was supported by Creative Ireland, and delivered by the Institute of Designers in Ireland, in partnership with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Demonstrating the importance of embedding design approaches across the public sector, three government ministers, Minister Catherine Martin, Minister Michael McGrath and Minister Ossian Smyth were in attendance to support the launch of the principles. Minister for State with responsibility for Public Procurement and eGovernment, Ossian Smyth, said:
“I am today calling on public servants at all levels to engage with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the development of an action plan to embed design methodology into how we plan and deliver public services. By engaging with our users and testing, learning and iterating, we will guarantee that our citizens’ needs are put front and centre in crafting our policy responses and delivering our services."
In reflecting on the ambitions of the conference Minister Catherine Martin stated:
“My department is delighted to collaborate with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on this work to embed design thinking in public services. I warmly welcome the opportunities for change that will be generated by this conference. Creativity and design thinking needs to be hardwired into our public services.”
Alongside Vaugh, the two other keynotes on the day included Lou Downe, former Design Director of the UK Government and Mari Nakano, the former Service Design Director at New York City Office for Economic Opportunity. As well as the keynote presentations, there were a number of panel discussions with public servants currently using design approaches from across public services in Ireland. These included individuals from the Courts Service, An Garda Síochána, the HSE, the Northern Ireland Dept. of Finance, Mater Hospital, Dublin City Council, Cork County Council, Deloitte Digital, VHI and the office of the Government Chief Information Officer.
Speaking after the launch, Trevor Vaugh said:
“The objective here is not to scale design in the public sector, the objective is to scale new ways of listening, collaborating, experimenting and delivering meaningful outcomes and better experiences for the people of Ireland. Design is just the most effective means we have of doing it. This is an important day for the design discipline, but an even more important day for the people who live in Ireland and use public services every day. My hope is that the launch of these principles will mark the beginning and act as a catalyst for a design-led Ireland.
‘Designing our public Services’ is an aid for public servants that are eager to put people at the forefront of service provision. This set of principles will serve to empower our public service to embrace a new way of working, to incorporate powerful tools and techniques, and to deliver human-centric solutions to complex social issues. The department of expenditure and reform will now initiate a public consultation as part of an action plan for the application of the principles, and the embedding of design capabilities across the public sector.