Public Expenditure and Reform

Eoghan speaking in the Dáil.

How many people are in receipt of 2 or more pensions from the State? – 30 April 2014

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of persons in receipt of two or more pensions from the State and the cumulative value per annum paid to these persons.

REPLY.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin):

I assume that the Deputy’s question relates to public service pensions only, and that it does not comprehend the various social insurance-linked and other pensions paid by the Department of Social Protection.

Public service pensions are not centrally administered. Instead the large number of separate public service pension schemes are operated by individual employers or sectoral authorities.In the context of this non-centralised administrative model, detailed information of the kind sought by the Deputy is not available to my Department. However, certain relevant information is available from the results of an exercise carried out in 2012 and 2013 by my Department in connection with the aggregation of pensions for purposes of the Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR).

As the Deputy will be aware, the PSPR imposition on certain public service pensions was introduced on 1 January 2011 as provided for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010.

Section 69 of the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012 subsequently amended the 2010 Act by providing that public service pensioners who have two or more qualifying public service pensions should have those pensions subjected to PSPR on a combined or aggregated basis, not separately as was originally the case. Section 5(5) of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 modified this requirement to aggregate pensions for PSPR purposes so that it only applies to persons whose multiple public service pensions, before application of PSPR, have a combined value of over €32,500.

In order to facilitate the implemention of PSPR aggregation, my Department conducted an exercise  to ascertain those pensions in payment that would be subject to  PSPR aggregation. Based on this exercise, the number of public service pensioners who receive more than one public service pension, and in repect of whom the combined value of those pensions, on a pre-PSPR basis, exceeds €32,500, is estimated at about 1,300, and the cumulative annual pay-out value of those pensions is estimated at about €70 million. I should point out that a significant proportion of multi-pension cases in the public service are represented by persons who, in addition to their own retirement pension, receive a survivor’s pension in respect of a deceased public service spouse.

How many people are employed by the State? – 18th February 2014

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the total number of persons employed by the State as of 31 December 2013, broken down by civil servants, local authorities, State body, semi-State body, State agency, quasi autonomous non-Governmental organisation, executive and defence forces.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin):

Information on the number of public servants is collected and collated on a quarterly basis and in accordance with the categorisation outlined below.  The total number employed by the State in each of the following categories as of 31 December 2013 – and expressed in terms of whole-time equivalents (WTEs) – is set out in the table below.  Further data, including previous quarters, is available on the my Department’s Databank website ( http://databank.per.gov.ie/).

Click here for table.

The Lansdowne Road Bridge & Flood Defences on the Dodder - 18th February 2014

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Office of Public Works will provide information on the pedestrian and railway bridge at Lansdowne Road in terms of the development of new flood defences along the river Dodder; if the height of the bridge was considered in these plans in terms of contributing to past flooding; and the way this is to be addressed in the current defence works.

Reply

The Minister for State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Brian Hayes):

The design of the River Dodder Flood Relief scheme has been undertaken by Dublin City Council, with the works being undertaken by the Office of Public Work’s (OPW) direct labour force. The scheme was designed to provide protection against a flood event with an annual exceedance probability of 0.5%, commonly referred to as the 1-in-200 year event, which is the standard level of protection for locations that are tidally influenced. It is the OPW’s understanding that the river was modelled with the bridge in place, and that it was determined that it does not contribute to flooding in the event of the design flood nor is it affected by such an event.  The OPW understands, therefore, that the Council has no proposals to undertake work to the bridge.

Differences in salary scales for civil servants recruited in 2010 and 2011 – 11th February 2014

A) To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when he will, as part of the terms Haddington Road Agreement, resolve the difference in salaries scales in the civil service that occurs between those recruited in 2010 and those recruited in 2011; and the way he intends to do same.

B) To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if someone recruited to a position in the civil service in 2011 or 2012 can be deemed to be recruited in 2010 for the purposes of determining their salary scales, for any reason, including if they had previously worked, if only for a short period of time and on a temporary contract or part-time contract, in the civil service or public sector generally prior to their recruitment to a permanent position post in 2010.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin):

On the introduction of the modified salary rates introduced in January 2011, persons who were recruited to the public service through direct entry competitions in the period after January 2011 and who previously worked as a public servant in a similar or analogous role had such service recognised and were not accordingly subject to the revised rates.

In fulfilment of the commitments entered into under the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement, my Department recently notified Government Departments and Offices of the revised pay rates applying in respect of the relevant direct entry civil service grades coming within the terms of clause 2.31 of that Agreement.

Payment of dividends to the Exchequer by State-owned companies in respect of the NewEra strategy – 26th November 2013

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 244 of 12 November 2013, in respect of the NewEra strategy, if he has devised a strategy for the payment of dividends by State-owned companies to the Exchequer for the next five years.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin):

In general, dividends of 30% of profits after tax have been sought of State companies in recent years. My Department, working with other relevant Departments and NewEra, is at present working on a range of shareholder considerations, including developing a new dividend policy for commercial state companies.

Application of the Freedom of Information Act to companies owned by local authorities – 18th September 2013

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he is considering amending the Freedom of Information Act to include companies that are owned by local authorities.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin):

Section 6 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill 2013 contains a generic definition of public body which will enable FOI to apply to all public bodies unless specifically exempt in whole or in part.  Essentially, FOI is being extended to the widest possible definition of public bodies, including a number of significant high profile bodies which have been excluded since the legislation was first enacted.  Provision is also being made in the Bill (Section 7) to allow for the application of FOI, either in whole or in part, to non-public bodies which are in receipt of significant funding from the State.  This will be progressed in due course by way of Ministerial Order subject to consultation with the relevant Departments to agree on criteria to select bodies which are a priority for bringing within the FOI regime.

As regards the companies that are owned by local authorities, the position is that, while it would not be possible for me to state definitively that all of the companies that are owned by local authorities will be covered by FOI under the new legislation, it appears on the face of it that such companies will be automatically comprehended by the very broad definition of public body contained in Section 6 of the FOI Bill, in particular Section 6(1)(f), subject to the appropriate commencement period provided for in Section 1(3) of the Bill. Certainly no exemption has been provided for such companies. Confirmation of the position in any particular instance should presumably be available from the relevant local authority based on its knowledge of the specific legal structure that is in place.

The Haddington Road Agreement - 5th July 2013

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if public sector workers who are not members of a union will face greater uncertainty and or unequal treatment regarding their future working conditions as a result of not being a member of a union in the context of the Haddington Road Agreement.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin):

I propose to take questions numbered 406 and 410 together.

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 was enacted on 5 June 2013. The primary purpose of the legislation is to implement the proposed pay reduction for public servants earning annual salaries of €65,000 or more, and the parallel reduction in public service pensions over €32,500.

Contingency measures that may be deployed to secure the necessary reductions in the public service pay and pensions bill are also included in the legislation, including provision for a universal freeze on pay increments. The Act also affirms that the person, which may be a line Minister or other public service body, that has the power to determine terms and conditions of employment may exercise that power to reduce non-core rates of pay or to increase hours worked. However, under the legislation, a facility is provided for unions and representative associations to conclude collective agreements with their public service employers.

Where a union has signed up to a collective agreement, now called the Haddington Road Agreement, it will avoid the need for those contingency measures to be used. It is a matter for public servants and their representative unions and associations to decide if they wish to conclude a collective agreement with their employers. Non-union members are not included in the balloting process undertaken by unions but the legislation or the public service as an employer does not distinguish between those employees who are members or not members of unions and changes in terms and conditions are applied on a grade basis.

With regard to those grades represented by a union who do not conclude a collective agreement under the Act, as well as the increment freeze that will apply directly under the terms of the Act, the relevant decision maker will have to take the necessary measures to meet their targeted paybill savings in 2013 and following years.

The top 10 (OPW) Tourist Sites in Dublin - 16th June 2013

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Office of Public Works will list the top ten OPW managed tourist sites in Dublin; the pricing structure for each site; and the number of visitors to each site per annnum.

Reply

The Minister for State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Brian Hayes):

The Office of Public Works (OPW) administers a range of visitor sites in Dublin.  A number of these sites, that are free of charge, do not have a guided service.  As a consequence, visitor numbers are not recorded at these sites.  An example of such a site is St. Stephen’s Green.

Click here for the tables that list those OPW visitor sites where visitor numbers are recorded and the admission/guided tour charges, if applicable.  It should be noted that some of the sites listed have restricted opening dates/times.

 Quangos - 30th May 2013

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of quasi autonomous non-Governmental organisations including State bodies, agencies and boards, that have been abolished, merged, or absorbed into existing State bodies, respectively; the level of savings that have been achieved as a result; and the number of quangos that now remain; the difference between this figure and the figure of March 2011; and his future plans in this area.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin):

My Department is currently monitoring the implementation of the agency rationalisation programme of the Public Service Reform Plan on a quarterly basis.  The latest tables which detail this progress to end Quarter 1 2013 can be found at: http://per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Public-Service-Rationalisation-Measures-end-Q1-2013.pdf

In summary, the tables show that significant progress has been made by Departments on the implementation of agreed rationalisation measures.   To date, rationalisation and amalgamation measures involving 25 bodies have been fully implemented, and measures involving a further 83 bodies are at advanced legislative or administrative stages.

Further measures, involving 107 bodies, were identified under a critical review process undertaken in 2012 as part of the Public Service Reform Plan.  The majority of these measures will be implemented in 2013.

On the issue of savings, the Public Service Reform Plan aimed to secure €20 million in enhanced service efficiencies and value-for-money from the rationalisation programme, a target which will be achieved.  The bulk of the savings are derived from a reduction in the number of public servants working in the merged entities.

From the outset we have maintained that the lasting and most important benefit from the rationalisation of State Bodies will be a less crowded administrative landscape resulting in greater democratic accountability, less duplication of effort and clearer lines of responsibility for the citizen.   Moreover, the rationalisation programme needs to be understood as just one of a package of reform measures that will allow for the continued delivery of critical services against the backdrop of public service numbers. There will of course be other cash savings realised over time as organisations, financial systems, office accommodation etc. are rationalised into leaner, more coherent structures.  These savings, some of which will be once-off, will be factored into the overall budgetary framework as they arise.

With regard to the Deputy’s question regarding the number of State Bodies that still exist, as I have stated before in previous PQs, there are three broad categories of State Bodies.

Firstly, there are a number of Offices of State which typically are staffed by Civil Servants and have their own Vote for the allocation of public monies and which are within a Vote Group. A list of these bodies is set out in Appendix 1 (click here).

Secondly there are non-commercial State Bodies who are usually staffed by Public Servants and funded (or part funded) through a grant-in-aid from their parent Department. Details of such bodies are set out in the Detailed Expenditure Information on Non-Commercial State Agencies included in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2013, which can be found on my Department’s website at: http://per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/REVISED-ESTIMATES-VOLUME-2013-final.pdf

Beyond that within each Department there are many other executive offices, divisions and directorates, operational or consultative groupings, task groups or forums that exist for various purposes that might or might not meet the definition of ‘entity’.  Many of these groups are transient in nature in response to the needs and business pressures of particular Departments and sectors and details of which would not be held centrally.

 Questions on such bodies should be directed to the relevant Ministers.  The internal organisation of my own Department is set out in Appendix 2. (click here).

Other bodies under my Department include Top Level Appointments Committee (TLAC), Outside Appointments Board, Public Service Agreement Implementation Body, Civil Service Arbitration Board, the Valuation Tribunal, and Special EU Programmes Body.  Separately, both the Institute of Public Administration and the Economic and Social Research Institute receive Grant-in-aid from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Way Commercial Rates are Determined for units in surburban shopping centres. - 16th April 2013

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the way commercial rates are determined for units in surburban shopping centres.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform ( Brendan Howlin):

The levying and collection of commercial rates is the responsibility of each local authority and the Valuation Office has no function in this regard. The basis of rateable valuation for all commercial property, including retail units in suburban shopping centres, is net annual value and is set out in Part 11 of the Valuation Act, 2001.

Net annual value is the rental for which one year with another, the building might, in its actual state, be reasonably expected to let from year to year, on the assumption that the probable average annual cost of repairs, insurance and other expenses (if any) that would be necessary to maintain the property in that state, and all rates and other taxes and charges (if any) payable by or under any enactment in respect of the property, are borne by the tenant of the property.

Various methodologies may be used in estimating the net annual value (NAV/rental value) of a building. The most common methodology used is direct comparison with other similar buildings in the same rating area. This is the method used to estimate the net annual value (NAV/rental value) of retail units in suburban shopping centres.

There are two provisions in the legislation governing the assessment of valuations, i.e. revision and revaluation.

Revision of valuation is the mechanism used to maintain existing local authority valuations lists. It is used to add new properties to the list, to amend the valuations of altered properties and to remove demolished or defunct properties from the list. The valuations of commercial properties at revision are determined by reference to the net annual values of comparable properties on the same valuation list. That is to say that they are compared with similar type properties in the same local authority area to ensure, in so far as it is possible, that they are all treated equally.

In a revaluation the entire commercial valuation list for a local authority is brought up-to-date by reference to values at a specific valuation date and the entire list is published on one date (usually 31 December) and comes into effect for rating purposes on 1 January the following year. To-date, revaluations of the commercial list have been completed in South Dublin, Fingal and Dun Laoghaire County Council areas and the revaluation programme for the Dublin City Council area is currently underway and is expected to be completed by 31st December, 2013.

The Commissioner of Valuation is responsible for the administration of the Valuation Act and is independent in the exercise of his duties under the act and I, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, have no function in decisions in this regard.

The Way Commercial Rates are Determined – 16th April 2013

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the way commercial rates are determined for private houses that are used as businesses for example doctor’s surgeries.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform ( Brendan Howlin):

I should point out that the Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties under the Valuation Act, 2001 and the making of valuations for rating purposes is his sole prerogative and I, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, have no function in this regard.

The levying and collection of commercial rates is the responsibility of each local authority and the Valuation Office has no function in this regard. Private residential houses are exempt from rates, however, if there is a business undertaking located in a residential house, such as a medical surgery or other similar facility being operated on a commercial basis, the accommodation space used for that purpose is valued for rating in the same manner as a commercial property unconnected to a private house.

The basis of rateable valuation for all commercial property, whether it forms part of a private house or otherwise, is net annual value and is set out in Part 11 of the Valuation Act, 2001. Net annual value is the rental for which one year with another, the building might, in its actual state, be reasonably expected to let from year to year, on the assumption that the probable average annual cost of repairs, insurance and other expenses (if any) that would be necessary to maintain the property in that state, and all rates and other taxes and charges (if any) payable by or under any enactment in respect of the property, are borne by the tenant of the property.

Various methodologies may be used in estimating the net annual value (NAV/rental value) of a building. The most common methodology used is direct comparison with other similar buildings in the same rating area.

The National Lottery Bill – 27th March 2013

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he is considering including the natural environment as a category for financial support in the upcoming National Lotteries Bill.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform ( Brendan Howlin):

The categories for the disbursement of National Lottery funds provided for in section 41 of the National Lottery Bill 2012 include national culture and heritage (including the Irish language) and youth, welfare and amenities. These categories are quite wide and would not prohibit the funding of community projects which have an environmental dimension. Consequently, I am of the view that a specific category called the Natural Environment is not required.

Furthermore, the inclusion of a new category would inevitably lead to demands for the inclusion of other specific categories, thus leading to greater demands on the amount of funding available and the dilution of the effectiveness of those funds. Accordingly, I do not propose to alter the categories of good causes specified in the Bill.

Employment practices in the civil service - 6th February 2013

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there are any retired public sector workers from his Department, or any other part of the public sector, currently on his Department’s payroll, for example, for sitting on a committee or preparing a report, but not exclusively these two areas; the number on the payroll; the cost to his Department; the services being delivered for this money; and the way that the positions were originally advertised.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform ( Brendan Howlin):

In response to the Deputy’s question the Public Appointments Service (PAS), in the course of running recruitment competitions for the public service, avails, inter alia, of trained and experienced retired public servants as interviewers, assessors and as decisions arbitrators. At any given time, PAS would have approximately sixty active on their database that would be used from time to time for short periods. For this work, retired members are paid on a fee-per-day basis and are subject to tax and other relevant deductions. The fees are linked to pre-retirement grades and take account of the principal of pension abatement. These positions are not advertised but any trained professionals can apply to PAS to be placed on the data base for our selection boards. The total cost for these services in 2012 was €385,856.67.

The outgoing Chairman of the Public Appointments Service Board, who is a former Civil Servant, was reappointed by me in September 2011 and is paid a stipend €11,970 per annum.

The Chairperson of the PAS Internal Audit Committee is also former Public Servant and was paid a fee of €2,137.50 in 2012. She was appointed by the former Chief Executive of PAS on the basis of her experience in the area of corporate governance.

The Office of Public Works has engaged the services of a former member of staff for the period of the EU Presidency. This person was selected because of previous experience of EU Presidencies and other important events. The abatement principle was considered to be a cost effective way of contributing to the smooth running of all EU Presidency events in Dublin Castle. The cost of his services is approximately €28,000.

There are no other retired public sector workers currently on my Department’s payroll.

Government contracts – 11th December 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the percentage of Government contracts in his Department that were awarded to non-Irish companies in the three years 2009 to 2011 inclusive; and the percentage of these that went to EU companies in that period.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform ( Brendan Howlin):

Under EU Directives on public procurement public works, supplies and service contracts above certain thresholds must be advertised on the Official Journal of the EU and awarded on the basis of objective and non-restrictive criteria. As we cannot include nationality as a criterion in deciding on contract award my Department does not therefore hold these records.

The aim of these European rules is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers best value for money. It would be a breach of the rules for a public body to favour or discriminate against particular candidates on grounds of nationality and there are legal remedies which may be used against any public body infringing these rules. In this regard, it is worth pointing out that the open market regime also offers opportunities for Irish companies to win business abroad and reliable EU studies indicate that many Irish businesses are successful in this regard.

The public procurement market in the EU is estimated to be valued in excess of €2 trillion. The open market regime affords opportunities to Irish companies to win business abroad as part of the EU Single Market.

Staffing reductions in the public service and the moratorium – 28th November 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a breakdown of reductions of personnel in the public sector over the past four years; the expected reduction over the next two years; and when he expects the moratorium on recruitment to end.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin) :

The Government is committed to reducing public service numbers to 282,500 by the end of 2014 as part of its Reform Agenda. The overriding objective is to have a more customer focused, leaner, more efficient and better integrated public service which delivers maximum value for money.

The moratorium on recruitment will continue until such time that the targets agreed in the Programme for Government are met. If the general moratorium on recruitment was lifted and numbers were allowed to return to their former levels, the paybill would increase over time and accordingly a substantial part of the savings already achieved would be lost. However, the precise operation of the moratorium is being kept under review by my Department.

The historical data requested by the Deputy is available on my Department’s website http://databank.per.gov.ie/ from 1994 to Quarter 3 2012. This data is regularly updated and I would urge all Deputies to utilise this resource.

The number of Quangos – 28th November 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there will be any provisions in Budget 2013 to reduce the number of quangos; and the number of quangos that will then exist following these reforms.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin) :

As the Deputy is aware it would not be appropriate for me to comment in advance of the Budget on possible Budget decisions.

 Redundancy strategy in the public sector – 20th November 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform regarding additional redundancies expected in the public sector, if these redundancies will be made in a selective or targeted way.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin) :

The Government is committed to creating, a leaner more efficient Public Service.

To this end, the identification of staff surpluses is underway across the public service. Where surplus staff cannot be redeployed, exit mechanisms (including voluntary redundancy) will be employed.

Final decisions on numbers reductions to be achieved in each sector will take account of the surpluses identified by Ministers in respect of their portfolios and of expected rates of retirements in those sectors, Departments and Offices over the next few years.

Management of the National Convention Centre – 20th November 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the name of the person managing the National Convention Centre and the terms under which the management company are operating the centre.

 Reply

The Minster of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Brian Hayes):

The National Conference Centre (NCC), now known as the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD), was procured by means of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Contract awarded to Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin Limited (SDCCD). Under the terms of the Contract, SDCCD were required to design, build and finance the Convention Centre and also to operate and maintain it, under licence, for a period of 25 years. The operation and maintenance of the Centre is undertaken by a Company, namely Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin (No. 2) Limited, a subsidiary of SDCCD. Details as to the personnel of the operator are available on their website at www.theccd.ie.

How former secretary generals’ pensions are calculated – 15th November 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the pensions of retired secretaries general are still linked to the salaries of existing secretaries general, or their former salaries upon retiring.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin):

Superannuation benefits of retired Secretaries General are calculated by reference to pensionable remuneration at their date of retirement. It is the practice that pay increases granted to those serving in the equivalent grade are awarded to the relevant pensioners.

However, having regard to the severe economic circumstances facing the country, there have been no salary or pension increases in the civil service since 2008.

The Deputy will be aware that, in fact, pensions have been reduced. The pensions of Secretaries General who retired on or before 29 February 2012 are subject to the Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR) calculated in line with the following rates and bands:

This reduction is exclusive of normal taxation.

It should also be noted that the pensions of Secretaries General retiring on or after 1 March 2012 are based on reduced pay rates which in turn will give a lower rate of pension. I should point out that, in common with all public servants, Secretaries-General have had their pay reduced substantially and serving Secretaries-General pay the pension levy.

Additional allowances in the public sector -15th November 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there are any public sector workers that have become entitled to and have received additional allowances since the Croke Park Agreement came into force, what these allowances are for, and what they are worth.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform ( Brendan Howlin) :

Allowances are and will continue to be a normal part of the pay structure in the public service. The general position adopted by my Department in reviewing the business case of an allowance, as stated during the Review conducted this year is that allowances should only be payable in certain circumstances. These are:

  • that it reflects the arduous nature or unsocial hours, including the need to remain on call at weekends and other times, clearly associated with the duties of posts, or
  • work of additional value is actually received by an employer, or
  • in actual cost accrues to the employee derived from their employment.

In that context, my Department has sanctioned new pay allowances since June 2010, including:

  • An on-call allowance (€1,188 per week) for clinical staff at the National Virus Reference Laboratory at UCD, paid to one staff member per week to be on-call on a 24/7 basis for that week.
  • An on-call allowance (€5,940 per annum) for 6 staff members in the National Ambulance Service, following the recommendation of a HIQA report that the HSE should ensure that there are formalised senior manager on call arrangements in place at all times for ambulance services, including Ambulance Control.
  • An out of hours allowance was approved for Forensic Psychiatrists in order to ensure the availability of Consultant Psychiatric Support in critical emergency incidents, particularly in the context of recommendations arising from reviews of the tragic events at Abbeylara.

The detailed information sought by the Deputy in relation to the number of new beneficiaries of allowances in the wider public service in that period is not available to my Department. My Department has however published extensive information on the numbers in receipt of allowances during 2011. This does not include staff of commercial State -sponsored bodies or bodies funded by the State outside the public service since the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is not responsible for setting the rate of pay for employees (other than the Chief Executives of the commercial semi-State bodies) outside the public service.

 Public Sector Rostering – 6th November 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the sectors of the public sector that are currently employed on a roster basis and if there are any plans to remove employees from the rostering system.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin) :

No staff in my Department are currently employed on a roster basis.  Likewise in the offices and agencies under the aegis of my Department there are no individuals employed on a roster basis.

The number of staff to complete the PMDS – 26th June 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of public service employees that have completed performance management development scheme assessments in 2011 by sector and if he will provide a breakdown of the scoring categories [5 to 1] in each sector.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin):

My Department collects data on the operation of the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) in the Civil Service only.  In this regard the Annual Evaluation of PMDS for 2011 was concluded recently and showed that 77% of civil servants completed PMDS assessments.  The distribution of ratings in 2011 is set out below.

The ultimate aim of any changes to PMDS is to ensure that the PMDS system itself will support the improvement of individual and organisational performance across the Civil Service and that it is applied in a more fair and consistent manner.

56

3

35

2

0.9

1

4

My Department alongside management of the Civil Service and unions is now engaged in a process of identifying ways to improve more fundamental problems with PMDS.  The Evaluation of PMDS Survey 2010 highlighted that one of the main underlying problems with PMDS is a perceived lack of fairness and consistency in the application of the system.  In this regard, my Department is currently negotiating with the unions on further changes to PMDS aimed at improving fairness and consistency and the operation of PMDS from both a management and a staff perspective.

8

5

% of staff

There has been an overall increase in PMDS completion rates since 2009.  In that year, completion of PMDS was at 56%, rising to 69% in 2010 and to 77% in 2011.

The central aim of any performance management system is to support managers and employees in improving the performance of the individual and, in turn, the performance of the organisation.

The most important element of how effective performance management will be in an organisation is the skills and talent of line managers.  My Department has developed a range of tools to support line managers in developing good management skills.

In addition to the skills of line management, it is also critical that the performance management system itself is designed in such a way as to support management and staff in delivering high performance levels.

My Department carried out a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the performance management and development system used in the Civil Service in 2010. The Evaluation of PMDS Survey 2010 identified a number of problems with how PMDS is currently operating.

My Department has been working with management and unions, in accordance with commitments in Croke Park to strengthen performance management in the Civil Service, and has agreed changes to strengthen performance management.

In 2011 changes were introduced aimed at improving the operation of PMDS. This involved streamlining the paperwork associated with PMDS primarily to create space for more discussion about performance between staff and managers. Critically we are increasing manager accountability for managing performance by giving a low rating to managers who do not manage the performance of their staff proactively i.e. a manager who has not been managing their staff (including the completion of PMDS for their staff) should not get a rating above 2.

Rating

0.1

A chief information officer – 26th June 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will be appointing a chief information officer for the Government in addition to forming a committee; and if members from professional bodies will be invited on to that committee.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

The CMOD Division of my Department has a public service-wide brief with responsibility for researching, developing and implementing policies in the areas of technology, shared ICT services, eGovernment and telecommunications.  It also operates as the sanctioning authority for ICT expenditure in the public service.  It represents Ireland at EU level in relation to public service ICT and eGovernment.  The Director of CMOD, at Assistant Secretary level, represents Ireland on the EU’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) Network.
In November 2011, my Department established a Public Service CIO Council in accordance with our commitment in the Public Service Reform Plan.  This CIO Council is chaired by the Director of CMOD and comprises a representative sample of the most senior and experienced ICT and eGovernment personnel in the public service.  The purpose of the Council is to work with CMOD in developing ICT and eGovernment policies, procedures, principles and best practices for the public service, reflecting Government policies and supporting the reform programme.  The Council discusses key ICT and eGovernment  issues, and provides expert input to decisions and actions aimed at maximising the positive impact of these on public service modernisation and customer service.  For example, since its establishment, the Council has assisted with the development of the new eGovernment Strategy which I published in April and with the development of a Cloud Computing Strategy which I hope to bring to Government in the coming weeks.  The Council may also establish working groups to research and/or develop proposals/recommendations for specific topics or actions.  The Council determines the composition, size, mandate, terms of reference and timelines for such working groups, subject to ethical safeguards and avoiding conflicts of interest.  This would include engagement with industry, academia and professional bodies.  Full details of the Council’s membership and operation will be published on a new website for the Council shortly.

The number of staff in the department’s redeployment pool – 26th June,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of persons in his Department’s redeployment pool, including agencies responsible to it, that is, those persons who are to be redeployed as their current role is no longer necessary, but have not been redeployed as of yet.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

To date in my Department no positions have been identified as surplus to requirements and therefore no positions have been placed on a redeployment panel.  Regarding agencies under the aegis of my Department, the Public Appointments Service has two positions available for redeployment on their panel since May 2012. In addition in the IPA, out of 15 positions identified for redeployment, there are only three still awaiting redeployment for the last two months.

The Public Appointments Service is responsible for reassigning positions from redeployment panels.

Management in my Department will continue to monitor and examine how resources are been deployed   and whenever possible any surplus posts will be placed on the redeployment panel.

Will the FOI Act apply to NAMA – 26th June 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will be applying the Freedom of Information Act in full to the National Assets Management Agency.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

It is planned to bring proposals to Government shortly to secure approval to draft amending Freedom of Information legislation.  Extension of the remit of the Freedom of Information Act to include the National Asset Management Agency will be considered by Government in this context.

Staffing arrangements in the public sector - 12th June 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the percentage of staff working in the public sector, including in the civil services, that he deems to fall into the category of frontline staff, administrative, management, elected representative and any other relevant categories; and the way the pay budget is allocated across these categories in percentage and real terms in terms of as a proportion of the Department expenditure on salaries.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

My Department is working on gathering the material and information requested by the Deputy and  will furnish the information to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available.

When will the FOI Act be reformed – 12th June 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the timeframe in which he intends to restore the Freedom of Information Act as committed to in the Programme for Government.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

Significant work has been undertaken by my Department to examine and assess the key next steps and priorities relating to the implementation of the commitments on Freedom of Information (FOI) in the Programme for Government. My Department is currently considering the responses it has received from other government departments in respect of proposals relating to the substantive restrictions introduced in 2003 and to further extend FOI.  It is planned to bring proposals to Government in the coming weeks to secure approval to draft amending FOI legislation.

The Minister’s views on the membership of the Croke Park Implementation Body – 17th March 2012,

To ask the Minister for  Public Expenditure and Reform his views on whether it is necessary to review the membership of the implementation body for the Croke Park Agreement in order that at least one of the body’s members is from a non-public sector area.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

As is customary for industrial relations agreements, the membership of the Implementation Body is drawn from the parties to the Agreement and is specified under paragraph 1.18 of the Agreement which provides that the Body will comprise of an independent chair and nominees by Public Service Management and by the Public Services Committee of ICTU respectively.

Public tenders and companies in receivership – 18th April 2012,

To ask the Minister for  Public Expenditure and Reform if it is his policy or law to award public tenders to companies in receivership; and if he is reviewing procedures for the awarding of printing and other such contracts in view of recent experience.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

The assessment of a tenderer’s financial and economic standing is a key part of any procurement process. Establishing the appropriate suitability criteria that are relevant and appropriate to a particular contract is, of course, a matter for the contracting authority concerned. This is because the contracting authority is in the best position to gauge the appropriate levels of financial capacity that are appropriate to the needs of that specific contract.

In this regard, tenderers must declare that they have the necessary capacity to carry out a contract and must be in a position to produce the necessary documentation when requested.  That documentary evidence (e.g. bank statements, audited accounts, proof of professional indemnity, etc.) need only be produced when a tenderer has been short-listed or is coming under consideration for the award of a contract. Contracting authorities are advised to check these issues throughout a procurement process up to the point of awarding a contract to ensure that such circumstances have not changed.  If the financial situation of the tenderer has changed they can be excluded from any further participation in the competition.

Any tenders received from companies in receivership are considered on their own merits, taking account of the circumstances of the case and the provisions of the relevant tender competition.

Real tennis court in Earlsfort Terrace – 27th March, 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider asking the Office of Public Works to support an association (details supplied) in its efforts to secure the reopening of the real tennis court in Earlsfort Terrace.

Reply

I have agreed to meet representatives of the the Irish Real Tennis Association in the coming weeks to hear their proposals.

The cost to the Oireachtas of prepaid envelopes – 18th January 2012,

To ask the Minister for  Public Expenditure and Reform the amount the Oireachtas pays each year for prepaid envelopes provided for TDs and Senators, in total and per individual TD and Senator; the price paid per envelope; if any savings are achieved from An Post for this bulk purchase; if the money is paid up front or when the envelope is used; and if he or the Commission have investigated the possibility of achieving greater savings through a different arrangement, as well as the possibility of moving to a system in which envelopes are paid for on an as per use basis.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

The Regulations in relation to free postal facilities for members of the Houses of the Oireachtas provide for monthly allocations of prepaid envelopes for both Deputies and Senators – currently 1,250 and 750 respectively – with additional allocations for party whips. The allocations were reduced in June 2011 from the previous levels as a means of achieving efficiencies. The administration of the free postal facilities is a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission. The Commission, therefore, is in the best position to provide to the Deputy the detailed information requested, and I understand that the Commission is currently reviewing the provision and use of Oireachtas envelopes.

The minimum/maximum amount of money spent that must appear on the Departmental accounts -15th February 2012,

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the minimum amount of money spent by a Government Department that must be made public as an individual itemised line in the Departmental accounts when published.

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the maximum amount of money that a Government Department can spend before that specific item of expenditure must be made public.

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the obligations to publish money spent by each Department.

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree of detail the Government is obliged to provide expenditure incurred by the State; and the form in which the information must be published.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

I propose to take the following Questions together 121, 122, 123 and 124.

Expenditure incurred by the State is reflected in the accounts of the central and local government sectors, the semi-state sector and other organisations making up the wider public sector. Each of these sectors prepares its annual accounts and reports in accordance with the standards currently in place for that sector. This ranges, for example, from Appropriation Accounts prepared by Government Departments and Offices, to the Finance Accounts, in relation to the Central Fund and to commercial style accounts prepared by semi state bodies. Items of expenditure are processed and recorded in the financial management systems of the organizations concerned and are subject to internal and external audit.

In relation to expenditure by Government Departments, in the case of the majority of transactions, there are no minimum or maximum amounts specified for reporting in the annual accounts. There are, however, a number of situations in the annual Appropriation Accounts where expenditure thresholds apply. These are outlined in the Statement of Accounting Policy and Principles which are published with the Appropriation Accounts. Certain notes to the Accounts aim to draw the attention of the Dáil and of the Committee of Public Accounts to matters bearing on parliamentary control, or to provide fuller information about material transactions of an unusual nature recorded in the Account e.g. losses, special or ex gratia payments, and extra remuneration. Except in the cases outlined below, notes are provided where an individual transaction, or a category of transactions taken together, involves a sum of €50,000 or more. Where amounts lower than the threshold values are involved, notes are also provided where a serious issue of principle arises or where the Comptroller and Auditor General or the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform consider that a note should be given.

In the case of extra remuneration, the details given include the total amount paid under each category, the total number of recipients, the number of individuals that received €10,000 or more, and the maximum individual payment, if over €10,000. In the case of late payments in commercial transactions, information is supplied where the total of interest payments due was €10,000 or more or an individual interest payment was €10,000 or more.

Apart from the issue of annual accounts, as the Deputy is probably aware, the Programme for Government includes a provision that every purchase order by a Government Department or agency for more that €20,000 will be published online. This process will commence over the coming months and will provide a range of information on state expenditure.

The review of the National Development Plan – 15th February 2012,

To ask the Minister for  Public Expenditure and Reform when the National Development Plan is to be reviewed; and his plans for this review.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

My Department has already conducted a major review of capital expenditure programmes across Government in 2011.  On foot of this we have set out our capital investment priorities for the next five years in Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016, which we published on 10 November 2011.

A Green Book Appraisal system – 15th February 2012,

To ask the Minister for  Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to introduce a Green Book appraisal system similar to that in the UK.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

In the Comprehensive Expenditure Report 2012-2014 published last December, I set out a range of reform initiatives designed to modernise our system of public expenditure management and planning.  As part of this reform process, I introduced a new Value for Money (VFM) Code, a central point of reference for the public service on good practice in the areas of evaluation, appraisal and prioritisation of public funds.  The VFM Code, which is accessible on-line at http://VFM.per.gov.ie, consolidates, updates and streamlines earlier elements of the national VFM framework, including the Capital Appraisal Guidelines.

Who controls payments for staff at polling stations - 29th November 2011,

To ask the Minister for  Public Expenditure and Reform the person who determines the amount paid to those who work at polling and count centres at election time; and if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many of these workers are on holiday leave from public sector jobs to do this paid work.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

Prior to an election, it is a statutory requirement that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform prepare a scale of maximum charges for returning officers setting out the approved levels of fees and permissible expenditure in connection with election work.  This includes the fees payable to staff working in polling centres and on the election count. Once this order is signed, Dáil and Local Returning Officers’ can draw down advances for their expenses and, post election, they submit detailed accounts.

Local returning officers are responsible for all matters in connection with the actual conduct of elections and referendums, including the selection, appointment and training of polling station and count staff in accordance with the relevant provisions of electoral law.  It is the responsibility of Returning Officers, who undertake the disbursement of public funds at elections/referendums, to achieve value for money for the services and expenses incurred and to comply with Public Procurement Guidelines as appropriate.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, whose primary role in electoral matters is to provide an appropriate policy and legislative framework for a modern and efficient electoral system, assists returning officers, by issuing guidance to them in advance of each election and referendum. The guidance emphasises that the smooth conduct of polls is dependent on maintaining a cadre of sufficiently skilled and experienced people. Having regard to that overall objective, returning officers are advised to employ competent and efficient persons as polling staff and asked to give consideration, where possible, to employing suitable persons who are unemployed.

Reduction of the number of quangos – 25th October 2011,

To ask the Minister for  Public Expenditure and Reform if there will be any provisions in Budget 2012 to reduce the number of quangos.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

The question of rationalisation and the reduction in the number of State bodies is being considered in the context of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure and the overall budgetary and estimates process for 2012, and decisions on such matters will be made by the Government over the coming weeks.

The priorities set out in the Programme for Government for the rationalisation of State Agencies states that rationalisation must be cost effective and lead to a more transparent, accountable and efficient public service.  The overriding imperative is the absolute requirement to achieve major savings in all areas of expenditure and to reduce staff numbers and administrative overheads.  This underscores the need for radical streamlining of bodies, abolishing those bodies whose remit is no longer essential and amalgamation of other agencies or sharing of services between bodies, so that public services and functions can be delivered more cost-effectively.

The President’s remuneration package – 25th October 2011,

To ask the Minister for  Public Expenditure and Reform if 70% of the President’s remuneration package is tax free; and if he will clarify the total worth of the President’s remuneration package.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

Under the Presidential Establishment (Amendment) Act, 1973, the personal remuneration of the President is set at the rate paid to the Chief Justice plus ten per cent. In accordance with the Act, the personal remuneration of the current President is €325,507 p.a. and is subject to the normal income tax code including the Universal Social Charge. The remuneration of the current President is protected under the Constitution by virtue of Article 12.11.3 which provides that the emoluments and allowances of the President shall not be reduced while in Office.

In line with its stated intention to provide for reduced salary rates for new members of the judiciary, the Government has provided for a revised rate of pay of €249,014 to apply to the person who takes up the office of President following the enactment and commencement of the Single Pension Scheme and Remuneration Bill, 2011.  That Bill is currently before the Oireachtas.

Under the legislation the President also receives an allowance related to the Office of €317,434 p.a. which meets the expenses incurred in providing for state functions etc.

I acknowledge that notwithstanding the Constitutional protection afforded to the emoluments of the President while in Office, the current President has voluntarily waived sums due in respect of her entitlements under the legislation. A similar facility will be open to the new President on election.

How much the department expects to spend on consultancy fees - 6th October 2011,

To ask the Minister for  Public Expenditure and Reform the amount he intends to spend on consultancy fees in 2011, in particular those contracted to identify value for money in his Department.

Reply

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin TD):

The 2011 Estimate for my Vote includes the following provision for consultancy expenditure:

Administrative Budget                                     €7k

Programme Consultancy Costs                       €75k

At this point I do not envisage that the full allocation will be required but the final requirement cannot be predicted with reasonable certainty.

I do not envisage that any of this provision will be attributed to contracts to identify value for money in my Department.

The Valuation Office envisages spending €70,000 approximately on consultancies in 2011.  None of the consultancies are specifically geared towards the identification of value for money.

Public Appointments Service

Nil spend on consultancy in 2011.

Commission for Public Service Appointments

The Estimate for 2011 includes a provision for Consultancy spend of €158,000. To date in 2011 total spend amounts to €25,000 and it is not envisaged that the full amount of the provision will be required to the end of the year. None of this is attributable to contracts related to identifying value for money.

State Laboratory

The State Laboratory intends to spend €12,000 on consultancy fees in 2011. This spend relates to Internal Audit services only.

Office of Public Works

The estimate in administration subheads for consultancy fees and value for money on Vote 10 for OPW in 2011 is €54,000. Of this amount €33,000 relates to Value for Money and Policy Review consultancy contracts. Additional Information:In the course of its normal business activity, the Office of Public Works engages technical consultants on many of its projects, primarily architectural and engineering. The costs of these consultancies would be included in the overall project.

Agency, Body, Office

Detail

The amount of lottery number spent on health – 6th October 2011,

To ask the Minister for  Public Expenditure and Reform the percentage of National Lottery money spent on health; and the percentage of European lottery money spent on health each year.

Reply

Appendix 1 of the Revised Estimates for Public Services (REV)each year gives a breakdown by Department of all the expenditure areas that are supported by the proceeds of the National Lottery.  It is estimated that a total of €230 million will be available in 2011 from the Lottery.

The total allocation in the REV for 2011 for the subheads in the Health Votes (39 and 40) which are part-funded by Lottery proceeds is €13.3 million.  As Lottery funding is treated as an item of non-tax revenue to the exchequer, it is not possible to indicate the amount or percentage of Lottery funding provided to any particular Vote or subhead.  However, it is estimated that in 2011 total funding from the Lottery will represent 66% of the overall allocation for all subheads which are part-funded by the Lottery.

No distinction is made between funds raised by the National Lottery from European lottery games.