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Review Methodology

The purpose of the Commission’s audit is to examine the safeguards employed to protect the integrity of the selection process and that support the recruitment and appointment of staff on merit. 

In preparation for its review of the promotion processes, and in light of its experience reviewing appointment processes within An Garda Síochána, the Commission’s Audit Team met with the members of the Garda Inspectorate to seek their views on the role and impact of the promotion processes within An Garda Síochána.  A second meeting with members of the Inspectorate was held to discuss themes emerging in the course of the review.  The Audit Team also discussed the initial findings with the Chairperson of the interim Policing Authority.

 The Audit was undertaken as follows:-

A.  Meetings with Garda HR

Two meetings were held with the Executive Director of HR and his team to discuss the context of audit and recruitment systems generally within An Garda Síochána. Further detailed meetings were held with the HR Team responsible for managing and administering the competition process.

B.  Examination of Files

A detailed examination of the records retained in Garda HR on the 2013/2014 selection processes for Garda to Sergeant and Sergeant to Inspector was undertaken.  Follow up discussions were held with staff in the HR section at Garda HQ to clarify issues arising.

Files and records were examined to evaluate the effectiveness of the safeguards employed and to check for any anomalies in the management of the appointment processes. Checks were made, and evidence examined to assess the following:-

  • That candidates had received adequate and appropriate information and instructions on the application process
  • That Interview Board Members were properly selected and appointed
  • Questions asked at interview related to the competencies for the role
  • That broadly similar questions were asked of each candidate and candidates generally received the same amount of time at interview
  • That individual marking sheets corresponded to scores awarded on final aggregated lists
  • That the final aggregated list matched the list for appointment
  • That lists for appointment matched appointment orders

 C.  Interviewing the Interviewers

Interviews were held with a total of nine Interview Board Members who had participated in the processes. These Board Members were selected at random and were from both Civilian and Garda participants. Interviews were undertaken using a semi-structured approach and generally lasted one hour.

The broad themes covered in these interviews included:-

  • general impressions of the process
  • probity and fairness
  • canvassing/interference
  • overall impression of the calibre of candidates presenting
  • feedback mechanisms
  • selection of Interview Board Members
  • training of both Interviewers and Interviewees
  • make up of Interview Boards
  • scale and administration of the process
  • areas and methods of improvement

D.  Views from applicants in the competition

A questionnaire was developed and issued to 137 randomly selected members of the force who had been participants in the competitions under review.

The questionnaire covered a range of issues including:-

  • clarity of documentation
  • format and structure of competency based interview and the candidate’s understanding of the process
  • quality of feedback
  • fairness of evaluation
  • overall perceptions of promotion selection system
  • impediments to applying for promotion
  • suggestions for improvement