Nat O'Connor: The Department of Finance has established an Economics Division to focus on economic planning and performance monitoring. (RTÉ report here). This seems like a good idea, but we'll have to wait and see how much has really changed.
From the Departmental website, they also now have a new Division on Banking Policy. There's also an interactive presentation on the 'banking landscape moving forward', which is a very high tech format compared to how policy is normally presented. On the positive side, it perhaps allows the complex system of banking regulation to be presented as a coherent whole, but I'd be worried if the fancy graphics distract from an analysis on how robust the new policy is.
All of this seems to stem from the 2012 revision of the Department's Statement of Strategy 2011-14.
Taking as read the easy comment that 'we should have done this years ago', it will be interesting to see how much improvement is achieved and how willing the new Divisions will be to engage with the wider profession of economists and economic/business analysts.
It would be a sign of changing thinking if we were to see more civil service economists making public presentations at academic seminars and generally opening up on their assumptions, interpretation of data, etc.