In line with the programme for Government, a comprehensive review of expenditure is under way across all Departments with a focus on what services the public service should provide and also how these services can be best delivered. This review will undoubtedly lead to changes in the way in which some services are delivered. The Government will make decisions on the outcome of the review in the context of the Estimates and budget of 2012. In this context, outsourcing, in appropriate circumstances, is just one of the many options available. There are many public services where the use of outsourcing would not be appropriate or the most efficient or effective way of delivering the service, and, as such, we are fully aware of the need to consider all of the possible implications.
The Government is committed to compliance with the terms of the Public Service Agreement 2010-14. In an appendix to the agreement on service delivery options, it is recognised that some new or existing services will be provided on an outsourced basis. The appendix provides that, in advance of a decision being taken by management to proceed with outsourcing of an existing service, an evaluation will be undertaken with a view to determining whether the service can continue to be carried out in-house through service changes, having regard among other things to overall cost, quality of service, effectiveness and the public interest. In the event that management decides to proceed with outsourcing, commitments are given in relation to ongoing consultation with staff representatives and to job security and protection of employment terms of existing staff.
The Government's overall objective is to ensure that the cost of delivering public services is reduced further and that the public service becomes leaner, better integrated, more efficient and more effective. I am happy that the terms of the appendix to the Croke Park agreement will allow for efficient and effective delivery of public services, either directly or on an outsourced basis, while ensuring the concerns of public servants affected are taken into account.