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

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:

  • EU Exit - Preparation and Transition 
  • ​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 an Independent Board Member, Colm McKenna, who is not a civil servant, also sits on the 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 chaired by Mr McKenna. 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

A globally competitive economy that works for everyone.

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 to:

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, and manages its resources, both financial and staff

Business Plans (and COVID-19 response)

The COVID-29 response plan outlines the work being carried out by the department to limit the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic for our businesses and workforce alongside our pre-existing commitments which we will strive to deliver to help support the Northern Ireland economy.

The Department’s business plan outlines the key work planned for the Department in 2019/20 in relation to outcomes set out in the draft Programme for Government.

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 sponsors 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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