About the Department for the Economy

The Department for the Economy (DfE) was established in May 2016. Its responsibilities include:

  • wider economic policy, including specific areas like Energy, Tourism and Telecoms
  • the operation of a range of employment and skills programmes
  • oversight and funding of the further and higher education sectors
  • various aspects of employment law
  • the management and operation of various EU funding programmes

You can view the full range of our responsibilities on our Topics pages:

Departmental Board

The Departmental Board is chaired by the Permanent Secretary and manages the department within the strategic policy and resources framework set by the Minister. It supports the Permanent Secretary by providing collective leadership and taking ownership of the department’s performance.  

The department’s Deputy Secretaries are members of the Board and are responsible for the following groups:

  • International and Economic Relations
  • ​Economic Strategy 
  • Management Services and Regulation 
  • Skills and Education
  • Energy 

For more information on organisational structure and key functions, see:

The Directors of Finance Division and Central Services Division, as well as the Department’s Strategic HR Business Partner, are also members of the Board.

In addition, two Independent Board Members, Fiona Keenan and Michael McKavanagh, who are not civil servants, also sit on the Departmental Board. For a pen picture of Ms Keenan see Non-Executive Board Member appointed to the Department for the Economy  and for Mr McKavanaugh see Appointment of Non-Executive Member to Departmental Board.

Departmental Board committees

The Board meets on a regular basis and has established a number of committees:

  • Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) - the ARAC is responsible for providing advice to the Board and Accounting Officer on corporate governance issues and is attended by Mr McKavanagh. It meets at least four times a year and the Chair reports to the Departmental Board following each meeting.
  • Casework Committee - its role is to deliver better value for the taxpayer by challenging expenditure proposals on the grounds of deliverability, affordability and value for money.
  • Resourcing and People Committee - provides a strategic view of how the NICS Human Resource policies and procedures can best be applied to ensure that they contribute effectively to the delivery of the Department’s business needs.
  • Delivery Committee - this supports the Departmental Board in developing, and managing performance against the Department’s Strategic Work Plans, including corporate and annual business plans, and any delivery plans relating to the Programme for Government.

Further information on the committees is available in Departmental Board Operating Framework.

Vision, mission and strategic objectives

The vision, mission and strategic objectives of the department are set out below.

Our vision

Our vision is for Northern Ireland prospering through a decade of innovation which will deliver a better economy with benefits for all our people.

Our mission

To develop and implement agile policies and programmes which promote a competitive, sustainable and inclusive economy through investment in:

  • skills
  • economic infrastructure
  • research and innovation
  • business development

Strategic objectives

Our strategic objectives are:

  1. Accelerate innovation and research
  2. Enhance education, skills and employability
  3. Drive inclusive, sustainable growth
  4. Succeed in global markets
  5. Build the best economic infrastructure
  6. Deliver a regulatory environment that optimises economic opportunities for business and commerce, while also protecting consumers and workers
  7.  Ensure the Department has effective governance, including programme and project management arrangements, and manages its resources, both financial and staff

Departmental values

The Department for the Economy is guided at all times by the Seven Principles of Public Life and the NICS Code of Ethics, which set out the values and standards of behaviour expected of all civil servants.

In addition, as part of our organisational development activity, we have developed a ‘Culture Charter’ which builds on the NICS values. The charter sets out six ‘ONE DfE’ values that we expect to see in each other, lived out in our daily interactions with colleagues and wider stakeholders. ONE DfE is an acronym that means:

  • One Team
  • Nurturing Environment
  • Enterprising Attitude


  • Doing the Right Thing
  • Fire in the Belly
  • Everyone’s Important

Business plan

This plan outlines work progressed across both the department and partner organisations and sets out the work schedule that will be undertaken over the next year.

Financial management

The department’s accounts are prepared annually and provide information about the range of activities in which the department has been engaged over the previous year and its performance against its key commitments and targets. A link to the most recent report is below. Previous reports are available in our publication scheme.

Service delivery

DfE works in partnership with a number of organisations which have a key role in terms of implementing and delivering the Executive’s and the Minister’s policies.

The department also acts as co-sponsor to two organisations set up under the Belfast Agreement: 

Other bodies

In addition, the NI Executive has been the primary funder of the Northern Ireland Science Park (now Catalyst Inc) and DfE works with Catalyst Inc to develop the knowledge economy. DfE (along with the Department of Finance and the Department for Infrastructure) also works with the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR) in the development and regulation of the electricity and gas industry.

Public appointments

Current vacancies and background, including information about recent public appointments, are available at:

Departmental policies

The following policies outline how we conduct our business:


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