I refer the Deputy to the Government Statement on Transforming Public Services of 26 November 2008 which stated that the objectives of the Special Group are to:—
a. Review the scope for reducing or discontinuing Expenditure Programmes with a view to eliminating the current budget deficit by 2011.
b. To this end, analyse and make recommendations on reducing the numbers employed in each area of the Public Service having regard to:—
i. the need to identify and prioritise particular output targets and areas;
ii. the achievement of greater efficiency and economy in the delivery of all services;
iii. the scope for rationalising and streamlining delivery of public services in the consumers' interest.
c. Make recommendations on reallocation of staffing or expenditure resources between public service organisations as appropriate to deliver the objectives set out in the Programme for Government.
d. Examine and make recommendations for further rationalisation of State agencies beyond the rationalisation proposals and principles set out in Budget 2009.
As I elaborated in my comments at that time, the Special Group's examination of all programmes funded through public expenditure will identify options for savings in the context of the Government's fiscal objectives as set out in Budget 2009. It will also ensure that public expenditure is being used to address relevant priority policy objectives in the current fiscal environment and the overall efficiency of the public service will also be examined, including any ways of doing business that are out of step with the needs of a modern, responsive public service.
The Group consists of Mr. Colm McCarthy (Chair) and Mr. Donal McNally as core Members and they will be assisted by Mr. Pat McLoughlin, Mr. Maurice O'Connell, Mr. William Slattery and Ms. Mary Walsh. It will establish its own working methodology and any vacancy arising in the Group will be filled by me.
The Group will report to me every two months and will submit a final report to me by the end of June 2009.
The Special Group's analysis and recommendations will assist me and my Government colleagues to identify economies which can be made on the scale necessary to ensure that the public finances are brought under control in a short and economically prudent timeframe. The Group's conclusions will accordingly be considered on an ongoing basis in the context of preparing the Estimates of Expenditure for 2010 and later years, and publication or otherwise will be decided on in that context.