Stormont’s top civil servant claims last Executive met 90% of its targets

Sir Malcolm McKibbin is pictured to Martin McGuinness's left at this Executive meeting in 2014
Sir Malcolm McKibbin is pictured to Martin McGuinness's left at this Executive meeting in 2014

Stormont’s most senior civil servant has claimed that “around 90%” of the targets which the last Executive set itself were met – despite others questioning whether much more than half of the targets were achieved.

Speaking at a conference in Belfast on Tuesday, Sir Malcolm McKibbin appeared to significantly overstate – in comparison to analysis by investigative news website The Detail – how successful the last Executive had been.

The head of the Civil Service told the event: “The first full mandate, between 2007 and 2011, was about the two biggest parties learning to work together.

“From 2011 to 2016 it was about improving delivery – and we achieved around 90% of the Programme for Government for that term.

“However, this did not have the impact that we were hoping for.

“Moving on to an outcomes-based approach was the natural next step. We did not start to prepare a plan B, there was an absolute commitment to this new approach.”

Later, at the same event, Sir Malcolm again repeated the 90% figure, saying “as I said earlier on ... we achieved nearly 90% of the commitments that we had in the last Programme for Government but it didn’t have the impact on society that we wanted to see”.

However, earlier this year analysis by The Detail found that the Executive had failed to fully achieve almost half of the targets which it set for itself in the last Programme for Government – despite the fact that a delay in holding elections meant that the Executive had 12 extra months in which to deliver targets which were initially meant to be reached by May 2015.

The Detail said that 56% (46 of the 82 commitments) of targets in the 2011-2015 Programme for Government were achieved.

The analysis said that the Executive had failed to meet at least 18 targets and a further 18 were only partially achieved or were found to be unclear.

Most of the targets had annual ‘milestones’. Yet despite the fact that in several areas these annual milestones had not been reached, the overall target has still been assessed by Stormont as having been achieved, The Detail reported. It said that several departments had explained this by saying that the milestones had been changed during the term of government.

The News Letter asked Sir Malcolm’s office for an explanation of the discrepancy.

A spokeswoman for The Executive Office said: “The figure is based on an official assessment of the Programme for Government which shows that 70 (85%) of the 82 commitments were achieved and a number of others partially achieved.”