Genuine Social Partnerships – A Necessary Enhancement for Dysfunctional Institutions of National Governance ?

2009-06-03:  Since 1987 … Ireland has had continuous, and a quite positive, experience of National Economic Partnership Agreements


1987-1900     Programme for National Recovery (PNR)


1990-1993     Programme for Economic & Social Progress (PESP)


1994-1996     Programme for Competitiveness & Work (PCW)


1997-2000     Partnership 2000


2000-2003     Programme for Prosperity & Fairness (PPF)


2003-2005     Sustaining Progress


2006-2015     Towards 2016


But … where is the Social Progress ?   Where is the Fairness ?




In 2009


We – the People of Ireland – face a different reality … a twilight zone of interlinked, seemingly insurmountable challenges at national level.


This time around, the challenges are not just economic in nature … but social, environmental, institutional, political, legal and judicial.


The key to meeting these challenges … a stark realization that our Institutions of National Governance are in dire need of change, re-organization … and urgent enhancement by genuine Social Partnerships … a large scale effort requiring creativity and innovative strategic thinking …



[ The following text, intended for application in the European Union, was drafted in 2003. ]



Recalling(1) that direct and meaningful consultation with people, partnership between all sectors of society, consensus, transparency, institutional openness, and political accountability, are essential elements in Social Wellbeing for All – a Social Partnership is a collective of groups and individuals, i.e. the social partners, business, industry, civil society and experts, which acts as a ‘catalyst’ in enhancing and broadening implementation in an area of human and/or social policy.  Set out below are a number of Guideline Principles which should be actively considered as a basis for their establishment and operation within the European Union (E.U.) …


1.         Common Aim, Agenda & Objectives of a Social Partnership

Although of a voluntary and self-organizing nature, specific commitments should be made by partnership participants to co-operate together around a common aim, agenda, and a set of objectives with targets;  these core elements should evolve over time.


2.         Respect for International Law, Peace & European Values

A respect for International Law, Peace and European Values – Human Dignity, Human & Social Rights, Equal Opportunity, Social Justice & Solidarity, Sustainable Human & Social Development – should underpin all partnership activities.


3.         Vertical Co-Ordination of Activities

Mobilizing latent social capacity for translating policy into tangible results, partnerships should act in accordance with E.U. Law;  they are supplementary to, and not a surrogate for, Institutional competences at Union, Member State, regional and local levels.


4.         Horizontal Integration of Outcomes

Partnerships should coherently integrate ‘social’, ‘economic’, ‘environmental’, ‘institutional’ and ‘political’ aspects of Sustainable Human & Social Development in all outcomes.


5.         Multi-Sectoral & Multi-Disciplinary Participation(2)

Partnerships should adopt a widely multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach, and should proactively involve significant actors within the boundary of its remit – in order to more readily achieve a ‘balanced’ horizontal integration, and a timely realization, of outcomes.


6.         Openness, Transparency & Accountability(2)

Partnerships should be operated in an open, transparent and accountable manner – and in good faith, so that ownership of the partnership process and its outcomes are shared equally by all participants;  its activities should be accessible to the public.


7.         Effectiveness & Coherence(2)

Partnership performance, outcome coherence and implementation effectiveness should be regularly reviewed against objectives, targets, and overall impact on the common aim.


8.         Funding Arrangements

Funding arrangements for partnerships should be clearly identified, should not give rise to conflicts of interest, and should be accessible to the public.


9.         Freshness & Self-Renewal

Efforts should be made by participants to retain a spirit of freshness and self-renewal in a partnership;  new participants should be welcomed, and research given a high priority.


10.      Progress & Future Growth

The operation of a partnership is an iterative process;  precise and accurate feedback from outcome implementation is essential for its progress and future growth.





(1)  See Appendix II of the European Charter on Sustainable Design & Construction, adopted in Dublin on 6th November 1998.


(2)  See also EU Commission Communication COM(2002) 704 final, issued in Brussels on 2002-12-11: ‘Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue – General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission’.







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2009-05-29:  In Ireland, we are far too accepting and comfortable with our politicians, civil and public service employees, semi-state and qwango employees guarding all information … our information … as if their lives depended on it … and transforming any of our ‘Freedom of Information’ Requests into marathon obstacle courses which require a substantial entrance fee !


This is abnormal behaviour … and we cannot – must not – tolerate it any more !!!



Relax, chill-out … and please compare and contrast with …


… an Official United States Government WebSite which contains up-to-date information on how the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 is working, including how funding is being distributed at federal, state, tribal and local levels … and (be sure to sit down for this !) … tools for people to hold the government accountable.



Established under Section 1526 of Division A (Appropriations Provisions), Title XV (Accountability & Transparency) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, this WebSite has a precise job to do …


1.   The website shall provide materials explaining what this Act means for citizens.  The materials shall be easy to understand and regularly updated.

2.   The website shall provide accountability information, including findings from audits, inspectors general, and the Government Accountability Office.

3.   The website shall provide data on relevant economic, financial, grant, and contract information in user-friendly visual presentations to enhance public awareness of the use of covered funds.

4.   The website shall provide detailed data on contracts awarded by the Federal Government that expend covered funds, including information about the competitiveness of the contracting process, information about the process that was used for the award of contracts, and for contracts over $500,000 a summary of the contract.

5.   The website shall include printable reports on covered funds obligated by month to each State and congressional district.

6.   The website shall provide a means for the public to give feedback on the performance of contracts that expend covered funds.

7.   The website shall include detailed information on Federal Government contracts and grants that expend covered funds, to include the data elements required to comply with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Public Law 109–282), allowing aggregate reporting on awards below $25,000 or to individuals, as prescribed by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

8.   The website shall provide a link to estimates of the jobs sustained or created by the Act.

9.   The website shall provide a link to information about announcements of grant competitions and solicitations for contracts to be awarded.

10. The website shall include appropriate links to other government websites with information concerning covered funds, including Federal agency and State websites.

11. The website shall include a plan from each Federal agency for using funds made available in this Act to the agency.

12. The website shall provide information on Federal allocations of formula grants and awards of competitive grants using covered funds.

13. The website shall provide information on Federal allocations of mandatory and other entitlement programs by State, county, or other appropriate geographical unit.

14. To the extent practical, the website shall provide, organized by the location of the job opportunities involved, links to and information about how to access job opportunities, including, if possible, links to or information about local employment agencies, job banks operated by State workforce agencies, the Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, State, local and other public agencies receiving Federal funding, and private firms contracted to perform work with Federal funding, in order to direct job seekers to job opportunities created by this Act.

15. The website shall be enhanced and updated as necessary to carry out the purposes of this subtitle.



On-line … the following boxed (and linked) texts can be viewed on every Page …


Accountability & Transparency

This is your money.  You have a right to know where it’s going and how it’s being spent.  Learn what steps we’re taking to conduct oversight of funds distributed under this law in order to prevent fraud, waste and abuse.


Fraud, Waste & Abuse

Large amounts of cash can attract fraud.  Learn how to report any suspected waste and misuse of the recovery money.


Importantly … there also is a specific Page dealing with the Whistleblower Protection provided by Section 1553 of Division A (Appropriations Provisions), Title XV (Accountability & Transparency) of the ARRA.  There is even information included about making a Whistleblower Reprisal Complaint !




Does this blow your mind … or does this blow your mind ?!?!







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