About the Department for Infrastructure

Part of: DfI management and structure

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is one of nine Northern Ireland Departments.  The main responsibilities of the Department are:

  • regional strategic planning and development policy
  • transport strategy and sustainable transport policy
  • public transport policy and performance
  • road safety and vehicle regulation policy, including strategies to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads
  • driver and operator licensing and driver and vehicle testing
  • provision and maintenance of all public roads
  • certain policy and support work for air and sea ports 
  • river and sea defence maintenance and the construction of flood alleviation schemes
  • provision of flood maps and risk information
  • policy on water and sewerage services and management of the Department’s shareholder interest in Northern Ireland Water


The Department operates under the direction and control of the Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon. Civil Servants are accountable to the Minister and the Minister is accountable to the Assembly.

The Permanent Secretary, Katrina Godfrey, is the Accounting Officer for the Department and the Minister’s principal adviser.

Departmental Board

Katrina Godfrey chairs the Departmental Board, which is a key element in the delivery of Corporate Governance within the Department. Corporate Governance is the way in which an organisation is directed and controlled.  Details of all the arrangements which have been established to ensure proper and effective management of the Department's affairs are set out in our Corporate Governance Framework.

The Departmental Board comprises a further five Executive members. The Strategic Human Resources Business Partner for the Department also attends monthly meetings. The Executive members of the Board include the:

  • Deputy Secretary for Planning, Water and DVA
  • Deputy Secretary for Transport and Resources
  • Deputy Secretary for Roads and Rivers
  • Director of Corporate Policy and Planning
  • Director of Finance

The Board meets once a month to review the Department's performance, to provide advice to the Minister and to provide corporate leadership to the organisation as a whole. The minutes of the Departmental Board are available in the Publications section of this website.

The Departmental Board maintains a register of interests. The latest register is available in the Publications section of this website.

The Board is supported in its role by the Departmental Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, which is a committee of the Board with no executive powers.  The role of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee is to support the Board in its responsibilities for issues of risk control and governance.  This includes reviewing the comprehensiveness of assurances in meeting the Board and Principal Accounting Officer’s assurance needs and reviewing the reliability and integrity of these assurances. 

The Audit and Risk Assurance Committee also maintains a register of interests.  The latest register can be accessed through Publications section of this website.


The Board has established a Finance Sub-Committee and a Major Projects Sub-Committee. These sub-committees are responsible and accountable at all times and in all decision to the Departmental Board as a whole.

The Finance Sub-Committee’s purpose is to consider key strategic finance issues impacting on the Department and, through this process, assist and enhance strategic financial management and financial decision making. 

The Major Projects Sub-Committee’s purpose is to discuss and consider issues associated with existing and proposed major capital projects being taken forward by the Department.  This process will ensure that a strategic approach will be taken to decisions around capital projects and will ensure that the Board is fully aware of any major risks that would potentially impact on project delivery. 

The core groups

There are three core groups in the Department, one of which contains an executive agency - Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA).

Planning, Water and DVA

Responsible for:

  • strategic planning
  • planning legislation, policy and guidance
  • water policy
  • provision of clean drinking water
  • treatment and safe disposal of wastewater
  • flood risk policy management
  • vehicle tests
  • driver tests
  • driver licensing
  • roadside compliance and enforcement
  • Crumlin Road Gaol
  • St Lucia regeneration site

Transport and Resources

Responsible for:

  • transport policy and strategy
  • cycling
  • road safety
  • concessionary fares
  • Inland Waterways/Waterways Ireland
  • ports policy
  • Rathlin ferry
  • corporate services
  • finance
  • Translink bus and rail services
  • community transport
  • Gateways and EU programmes

Roads and Rivers

Responsible for:

  • maintenance and development of the road network
  • management of the road network
  • management of flood risks through Rivers Agency’s construction and maintenance of drainage and flood defence infrastructure
  • street lighting
  • winter service
  • Strangford ferry
  • Belfast Rapid Transit
  • park and ride
  • development advice relating to roads issues and flooding

Role in relation to Arm’s Length Bodies

The Department has an important role in relation to the three following separate organisations which, while at arm’s length from the Department, have their own Corporate Governance arrangements.

Northern Ireland Water (NIW)

NIW is a Government Owned Company and the statutory water and sewerage undertaker operating at arm’s length from central government. The Minister is responsible for overall policy and legislation and sets strategic objectives through guidance. The actual delivery of water and sewerage services is, however, the responsibility of the Company, subject to regulatory oversight by the NI Authority for Utility Regulation and environmental regulators.

The Department monitors NIW’s business performance and engages with the Company Board, Chair and Executive Team on strategic and shareholder matters. DfI is responsible for paying customer subsidy to NIW, making loans for investment and agreeing the Company’s annual budget and operating plan. The Minister is also responsible for making appointments to the Board of NIW.

Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHC)

NITHC is a public corporation and the parent company of the publicly owned bus and rail companies in the region. These companies, Northern Ireland Railways, Ulsterbus and Citybus (trading as Metro) operate under the brand name of Translink. NITHC’s statutory duties are to manage public transport properties and to oversee the activities of Translink.

We provide financial assistance to Translink as part of the Executive’s investment in public transport here, in line with the Transport Act 2011. We are also responsible for setting specific targets for NITHC and monitoring the extent to which these targets are achieved. Furthermore, we are also responsible for ensuring that appropriate financial and management controls are in place and that compliance with those controls is effectively monitored. The Minister is responsible for appointing the Chair and members of the NITHC Board.

NI Drainage Council

The NI Drainage Council is a non-Departmental Public Body which carries out a general scrutiny on the drainage functions of the Department.  It has a statutory duty to ensure uniformity of treatment of drainage throughout Northern Ireland.  It is the responsibility of the Drainage Council to designate watercourses and sea defences to be maintained at public expense.  Over 6,800 km of watercourses and 26 km of sea defences have been designated since the Council was established in 1947.  The Department uses powers in the Drainage Order to carry out maintenance and to deliver capital schemes as resources permit.  

The Council has no budget.  It is supported by a secretariat provided by Rivers Agency which adheres to the Department’s governance processes and procedures.

Role in relation to North/South Bodies

Waterways Ireland

The Department is also the sponsor department in Northern Ireland for Waterways Ireland which is the Cross-Border Body responsible for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of operational waterways throughout the island of Ireland.

Role in relation to the Northern Ireland Trust Ports

The Department is also responsible for ports policy and the legislative framework within which ports operate in Northern Ireland.

There are five commercial ports in Northern Ireland – four Public Trust Ports (Belfast, Londonderry, Warrenpoint and Coleraine) and one in private ownership (Larne). Public Trust Ports are autonomous, self-financing statutory bodies whose constitutions are set out in legislation. They operate on a commercial basis with the profit generated by their activities reinvested to improve their facilities.

The Department appoints the Chair and members of the trust ports at Belfast, Londonderry and Warrenpoint. The Department also appoint the Donaghadee Harbour Commissioners.

Belfast Harbour Commissioners

Belfast Harbour Commissioners are responsible for the improvement, maintenance and management of the port of Belfast and the accommodation and facilities therein. The Commissioners are empowered to do so under the Belfast Harbour Order (NI) 2002.

Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners

Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners are responsible for the improvement, maintenance and management of the port of Londonderry and the accommodation and facilities therein. The Commissioners are empowered to do so under the Londonderry Harbour Order (NI) 2002.

Warrenpoint Harbour Authority

Warrenpoint Harbour Authority is responsible for the improvement, maintenance and management of the port of Warrenpoint and the accommodation and facilities therein. The Commissioners are empowered to do so under the Warrenpoint Harbour Authority Order (NI) 2002.

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