Strategic Policy and Reform

Strategic Policy and Reform (SPaR) Directorate is responsible for leading, supporting and enabling public sector reform and for strategic finance and local taxation policy.

Aims and objectives

SPaR aims to:

  • promote strategic reform of the public sector
  • respond to strategic financial policy for the NI Executive
  • deliver policy on the domestic and non-domestic rating systems
  • ensure all departments comply with the Executive’s pay policy
  • oversee the delivery of 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Programmes
  • review and improve public sector performance and delivery across NICS


Strategic Policy and Reform Directorate consists of four Divisions:

Public Sector Reform Division (PSRD)

PSRD is responsible for exploring opportunities, engaging with staff and disseminating best practice reform lessons, as well as, leading, developing and implementing innovative solutions that generate more efficient and effective outcomes in and across NI Executive departments, arms length bodies and local authorities; PSRD also works co-operatively with departments to support and enable the improvement of services for our citizens as well as managing, monitoring and reporting on the implementation of reform.

Rating Policy Division (RPD)

RPD is responsible for providing advice and briefing on rating policy matters; formulating and developing rating policy; preparing legislation to implement policy change; appraises, monitors and evaluates the impact of rating policy; and for striking the Regional Rates each year, flowing from decisions made as part of the NI Budget process.

European Division (EUD)

EUD is responsible for ensuring and enabling EU Structural & Investment Funds expenditure and that the services they finance are planned, managed and controlled in an effective and efficient manner, to provide value for money. EUD also covers liaison with Whitehall Departments and the European Commission on the implementation of EU Structural & Investment Fund Programmes relating to NI; provision of advice and guidance to NI Departments and the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) on issues related to EU Structural & Investment Funds Programmes management. EUD also provides appropriate input to the Northern Ireland Public Expenditure process as it relates to the delivery of EU Structural & Investment Funds Programmes; joint sponsorship (with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Dublin) of the Special EU Programmes Body; and provision of briefing on EU Structural & Investment Fund issues

Strategic Policy Division (SPD)

SPD leads on the development and implementation of key Executive policies including key aspects of the Stormont House Agreement (for example, Corporation Tax devolution) and Economic Pact. We provide expenditure appraisal guidance, advice and training to Northern Ireland Departments, their agencies and arms-length bodies. The Division provides economic briefing, research, analysis and policy advice to key stakeholders. SPD is also responsible for the management and development of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Economist Group including recruitment, career development, and professional and administrative support.

SPaR Business Priorities

SPaR is committed to delivering high quality, effective and efficient services that meet the needs of our key stakeholders and customers.

Our business priorities focus on four key areas:

  • our results - to support the Executive in the securing, allocation and effective use of available resources
  • our customers - To deliver high quality, efficient and effective services to the citizen, NICS Departments and the wider public sector
  • our internal processes - to manage the resources available to SPaR efficiently and effectively and deliver required savings
  • our organisation and people - to support the delivery of DoF business objectives and the NICS People Strategy through the effective deployment, management engagement and development of our people, whilst continuing to embed a culture of continuous improvement

Vision Values

In achieving the overall objectives of the Department, the working practices of SPaR are guided by the Departmental CLEAR Values:

  • Customer - focused on service
  • Leadership - strong with clear direction
  • Ethical - honest, fair equal
  • Accountable - to citizens & their representatives
  • Results - working to deliver best value
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