O’Sullivan introduced a separate set of structural changes to ensure that the agency could manage the overarching reform process. This included creating a Strategic Transformation Office (STO) to manage change at the national level. The STO was initially tasked with helping to create a five-year transformation program, and its staff—which included a mix of Garda personnel and private consultants—reported directly to the Garda Executive, a senior leadership team that included Commissioner O’Sullivan. The STO also worked closely with staff at regional Risk Compliance and Continuous Improvement offices, which were responsible for managing the reform process—and ensuring its consistency with national efforts—at the local level. As O’Sullivan explained, this network of reform offices would function as an “organizational spine” that ensured that reform is “cascaded to the frontline,” that feedback could then be transmitted back to officials at the national level, and that innovation would spread across the entire agency.
To ensure that these newly created offices—and other critical Garda posts—were staffed with some of the agency’s most high-performing leaders, O’Sullivan made a series of significant personnel changes. This included promoting 40 officers to newly created superintendent positions; reassigning dozens of other officers; and more sharply defining the roles of “Regional Detective Superintendents,” who would now be explicitly responsible for investigating crimes in their regions. According to one local outlet, this represented a “historic shake-up of the force.”
Finally, as part of an effort to signal to state institutions that they were taking past feedback and oversight seriously, O’Sullivan and her staff synthesized the extensive feedback it had received from recently established supervisory bodies. Since 2005, when the government had created an ombudsman and inspectorate to oversee it, An Garda Síochána had received hundreds of reform recommendations contained in 43 reports. O’Sullivan understood that it would be impossible to respond to all of these suggestions; but if she and her staff could organize them into broader lessons, it would help the organization improve and reassure the Irish government—which had recently created a new oversight body for An Garda Síochána—that they were committed to incorporating outside guidance. Thus, she and her staff consolidated the insights from these reports into the five pillars of the TRUST program, which stands for “Taking care of our communities, Renewing our culture, Unified governance and leadership, Supporting our people, and Technology-enabled.”
Thanks in part to these plans and reforms, An Garda Síochána began to attract more support for its change efforts. Initially, in November 2015, the agency secured an investment of 5 million Euros from the Irish government to begin an operation to tackle crime in rural communities. Capitalizing on predictive analytics, community text alerts, and a “lock up and light up” campaign, An Garda Síochána decreased rural property crime by 34 percent. More recently, the agency obtained 300 million Euros from the Irish government to back the TRUST program. This has allowed for investments in An Garda Síochána uniforms and fleet that, according to O’Sullivan, have helped to restore the force’s pride. The support has also set the table for more significant technological investments, which will help the agency achieve its vision of not just revitalizing its best traditional qualities but also embracing a more modern approach. As O’Sullivan explained, “We want to renew, we want to modernize, and we want to get to a whole new place.”