MU academic leads development of first Design Principles for Government in Ireland

Trevor Vaugh speaking at the ‘Design in Government — Impact for All’ conference, Friday 28th October
Wednesday, November 9, 2022 - 14:15

A Maynooth University academic has led the first Design in Government working group under a new initiative developed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

Trevor Vaugh, Academic Director of product design and innovation, in the Department of Design Innovation, co-chaired the Design in Government working group and led a team of experts in the design and development of Ireland’s first set of design principles for government in Ireland.

An accompanying report for the programme, ‘Designing Our Public Services - Design Principles for Government in Ireland’, was launched at a recent conference opened by Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, TD.

Presented by the Creative Ireland Programme and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform as part of Public Service Innovation Week 2022, the conference was the first of its kind in Ireland, aimed at embedding design in the heart of Government.

Three government ministers, Minister Michael McGrath and Minister Ossian Smyth, as well as Minister Martin, attended the conference, underlining the importance for government of embedding design approaches across the public sector.

Addressing the conference, Minister Catherine Martin said: “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.”

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."

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.”

Keynote speakers attending the launch 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.

A panel discussion with public servants currently using design approaches in the public services, heard contributions from the Courts Service, An Garda Síochána, the HSE, the Northern Ireland Department of Finance, Mater Hospital, Dublin City Council, Cork County Council, Deloitte Digital, VHI and the office of the Government Chief Information Officer.