I move the following Revised Estimates:
Vote 11 - Public Expenditure and Reform (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €42,745,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, for certain services administered by the Office of the Minister and for payment of certain grants and that a sum not exceeding €146,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.
Vote 12 - Superannuation and Retired Allowances (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €375,517,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for pensions, superannuation, occupational injuries, and additional and other allowances and gratuities under the Superannuation Acts 1834 to 2004 and sundry other statutes; extra-statutory pensions, allowances and gratuities awarded by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, fees to medical referees and occasional fees to doctors; compensation and other payments in respect of personal injuries; fees to Pensions Authority and other professional fees, miscellaneous payments, etc.
Vote 13 — Office of Public Works (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €490,427,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Public Works; for services administered by that Office and for payment of certain grants and for the recoupment of certain expenditure and that a sum not exceeding €8,000,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.
Vote 14 - State Laboratory (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €10,271,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the State Laboratory.
Vote 15 - Secret Service (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €2,000,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for Secret Service.
Vote 17 - Public Appointments Service (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €16,291,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Public Appointments Service and that a sum not exceeding €150,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.
Vote 18 — National Shared Services Office (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €55,400,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the National Shared Services Office and that a sum not exceeding €1,024,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.
Vote 19 - Office of the Ombudsman (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €11,839,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Office of the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information.
Vote 39 - Office of Government Procurement (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €18,352,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Government Procurement and that a sum not exceeding €59,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.
Vote 43 - Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €21,704,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer.
I am appearing today on behalf of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Michael McGrath, to present the 2020 Estimate for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform group of Votes. This includes the Office of Public Works, which is my responsibility. I intend to share my time with the Minister of State, Deputy Ossian Smyth.
The group comprises a significant number of Votes, including the Vote for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Votes for a number of offices under the aegis of the Department, including the State Laboratory, the Public Appointments Service, the National Shared Services Office and the Office of the Ombudsman, the Vote for Superannuation and Retired Allowances, which covers Civil Service pensions, the Secret Service, the Office of Government Procurement, the Office of the Chief Government Information Officer, OCGIO, which is a new Vote, and the Vote of the Office of Public Works. My colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Ossian Smyth, will address the issues relating to the Office of Government Procurement and the Office of the Chief Government Information Officer.
As the Revised Estimates for 2020 published in December 2019 were not voted upon prior to the dissolution of Dáil Éireann earlier this year - the Estimates process is normally concluded in February - spending to date in 2020 has proceeded under the four fifths rule, which is applied under the Central Fund (Permanent Provisions) Act 1965. Under this rule, Departments can spend an amount up to 80% of that included for the relevant Department in the previous year's Appropriation Act. This provision ensures that Departments can continue to spend in the period before the Estimates are voted by the Dáil. A number of Votes within the public expenditure and reform group are at risk of reaching their four fifths limit in the coming weeks so to enable spending, both in terms of pay and pensions of the public servants concerned, and that the important programmes administered across these Votes continue, the 2020 Estimates are presented today for approval by Dáil Éireann, and I would appreciate the support of the House.
I note that a detailed briefing has been supplied to Deputies by the Department's officials who were assisted in this task by their colleagues in a number of bodies under the aegis of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Further detailed material is also contained in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2020, which was prepared by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Covid-19, along with other areas, has presented unprecedented challenges for our officials, Members of this House and communities across the country. Arrangements for business continuity and flexible working have ensured that essential public services can continue to be delivered while also ensuring that the general principles of health and safety and welfare in the workplace are adhered to. Officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the bodies under the Department's aegis have played a central role in responding to the challenges of the crisis. On behalf of the Government, I take the opportunity to thank all of those involved for their collective efforts in this regard.
In an overall context, it is worth noting that the total gross allocation for the public expenditure and reform group, comprising ten distinct Votes for 2020, shows an increase of 6.4% on the 2019 allocation. The majority of Votes are showing very modest increases. The 2020 overall gross figure is approximately €1.334 billion compared to €1.25 billion in 2019. In 2020, a new Vote, Vote 43, has been established for the OCGIO. This new Vote will serve to drive a process of digital transformation across Government and the implementation of various strategies. That is something I am fully aware of having been Minister with responsibility for eGovernment in the previous Government.
The structure of the public expenditure and reform Vote remains unchanged in 2020, with two strategic programmes focused on public expenditure and sectoral policy and public service management and reform. The requested resources for each programme in terms of staffing and funding are set out in part III of the Estimate. In 2020, a 27% decrease in the gross allocation for this Vote brings the total gross allocation to €44.9 million. This decrease is driven largely by the move of the OCGIO subhead to a new stand-alone Vote for 2020.
Public service reform remains a key priority for the Department. Funding for the public service innovation fund has doubled to €1 million in 2020 to reflect the demand from public service bodies seeking their services and operations.
Turning now to the other Votes within Vote group 1, I would like to mention that a memorandum of understanding has been agreed between the Public Appointments Service, PAS, Vote 17, and An Garda Síochána. This will result in the Public Appointments Service playing a key role in the selection aspects of internal Garda to sergeant and sergeant to inspector promotion competitions in 2020. Agreement has also been reached to transfer associated funding from the An Garda Síochána fund to the PAS fund to reflect this additional level of service. The impetus for this development is the 2018 Future of Policing in Ireland report which highlighted the importance of putting in place well-designed promotion systems within An Garda Síochána that are managed transparently and in line with best practice in the public sector. The Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána management have welcomed the increased involvement of the PAS in terms of introducing modern practices to the Garda in terms of its internal promotion procedures and practices. This can represent an important symbol of change within An Garda Síochána as people promoted through these competitions will have a critical role to play in shaping the future of policing across Ireland.
Regarding superannuation and retired allowances, Vote 12, this Vote provides for funding to allow the payment of pensions for retired civil servants.
The variation in expenditure from year to year is primarily driven by the number of individuals who will opt to retire before reaching their compulsory retirement age and whose age, service, grade or pay level are variable and uncertain. The Estimate being proposed today involves a gross provision of €640.1 million, representing an increase of €25 million, or 4.1%, on the gross figure for superannuation. This reflects an increase in the number of pensioners on the payroll and the number of civil servants reaching retirement age this year. The increase in gross expenditure is mitigated by an increase in contributions from the single public service pension scheme.
A modest increase to the State Laboratory's 2020 Estimate under Vote 14 will allow for investment in specialised laboratory equipment enabling the lab to respond to increases in the number of samples to be tested for veterinary drug residues following the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
The National Shared Services Office, NSSO - Vote 18 - has played an important role in the reform of public services in recent years through the delivery of human resources services, payroll services and shared services to clients in the Civil Service and the public service. The increase of the NSSO's gross budget by 10% in 2020 reflects the continued need for investment to save, in other words, to deliver more efficient standardised services.
The Estimate providing for the Office of the Ombudsman, Vote 19, will allow the various constituent offices to deal with their increased workload, continue investment in ICT modernisation and meet the challenge of delivering essential services to the public remotely at this time.
The 2020 Estimate provides a gross allocation of €505.427 million for the Office Public of Works, OPW, which is my responsibility. This supports the ongoing and widely respected work of the OPW and the provision of vital services to people across the areas of flood risk management and estate management, including our much-valued heritage estate. Our programme for Government recognises that climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing our country. The OPW has a significant role to play in climate action in two specific areas, namely, ensuring the energy-efficiency of the State's building stock and implementing a holistic approach to flood risk management.
At the core of the OPW's flood risk management work is the objective of reducing the flood risk to people, property, infrastructure and the environment to the greatest extent possible. In the context of this role, the OPW delivers services in four key areas. These include: strategic planning to manage future flood risk, including the co-ordination on behalf of the Government of cross-sectoral policies that mitigate flood risk; a programme of capital investment delivered in partnership with local authorities; programme maintenance of 11,500 km of river channels, including 800 km of embankments, and of arterial drainage; and advising the State and the general public on preparation for and response to flooding events.
The OPW has completed the largest study of flood risk ever undertaken in the history of the State, the catchment flood risk assessment and management programme, CFRAM. This study included an analysis of significant flood risks throughout 300 designated communities that are home to more than 3 million people. It provided 29 flood risk management plans which prioritise feasible measures to manage the assessed flood risk. As Deputies will be aware, the Government launched a €1 billion flood risk management investment programme under the National Development Plan 2018-2027 as part of Project Ireland 2040. Since the launch of the flood risk management plan in May 2018, the OPW has almost tripled the number of major flood relief schemes at design and construction stage, increasing the number from 33 to 92 by the end of 2019. This investment will provide protection to 95% of the homes identified under CFRAM as being at significant risk of flooding. It will also deliver sustainable benefits to our communities.
The OPW has incorporated assessments of the potential impacts of climate change into the CFRAM programme to identify potential future risks. It takes account of the need for adaption in the design and implementation of each flood relief scheme. In addition to this, the OPW has prepared a climate change sectoral adaptation plan for flood risk management which runs from 2019 to 2024. This is in line with the requirements of the national adaptation framework and the climate action plan of 2019. The plan was approved by the Government in October 2019 and includes a range of actions to adapt our flood risk management practice to effectively manage the potential impacts of climate change on future flood risk. Managing Ireland's flood risk is a long-term commitment requiring a multisectoral approach involving both capital infrastructural measures and non-infrastructural measures. The OPW co-ordinates an integrated whole-of-Government approach to flood risk management and an allocation of €126.219 million has been provided for within the Estimate to deliver this essential service.
The OPW's second significant programme, estate management, has been allocated a gross sum of €379.208 million. This allocation supports essential work in the management, design, maintenance and conservation of State properties, including Civil Service office accommodation and our internationally recognised heritage sites and monuments. In all, the OPW manages 2,500 properties on behalf of the State. The OPW continues to focus on optimising and sustaining modern, flexible and energy-efficient working environments for Departments and their employees. Like all public bodies, the OPW is in the process of responding to the immediate challenge arising from Covid-19 and will have a key role to play in designing the workplace of the future for the Civil Service. The OPW is working with other Departments to address this issue and to ensure new and agile ways of working are developed to meet the changing requirements for our office accommodation.
The OPW is also responsible for the management and conservation of some of Ireland's most significant heritage properties, monuments, gardens and arboreta. The management role includes the curation and presentation of 30 major historical properties, gardens and arboreta and significant collections of art, artefacts, plants and trees. It also ensures public well-being and enjoyment of these estates. Heritage continues to play a pivotal role in our tourism sector, which, like many other business activities, has been sorely affected by the current pandemic. It is important, therefore, that we adequately fund this area in order to ensure we are all well positioned to support the recovery of the sector and the wider economy.
I have only made reference to a small section of the work of the OPW and I have not gone into the detail of how it can contribute widely to the economic stimulus. However, it goes without saying that investment in the work programme of the OPW reaches into every county and community in the country, providing support and significant public benefits.
The Minister of State with responsibility for public procurement and eGovernment, Deputy Ossian Smyth, will address the issue of the Votes in his own areas of responsibility.