State Bodies Establishment

Questions (20)

Niall Collins


20. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of new State bodies that have been established under the aegis of his Department since February 2011; the number of such bodies subject to a sunset clause; the number of new public bodies currently being planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17849/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

In response to the Deputy’s question I can confirm that no new State Body has been created by my Department since February, 2011. It is expected that a new regulator for the National Lottery will be created when the legislation is enacted.

Public Procurement Regulations

Questions (21)

Denis Naughten


21. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will amend procurement rules requiring locally based agencies to purchase products from local suppliers when they are able to offer similar or better value to the nationally appointed provider, for example, when a local school has discretion to purchase stationery from a local supplier who is able to offer similar or better value than the nationally appointed supplier; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17702/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Under EU law, public contracts above a certain values must be advertised EU-wide and awarded to the most competitive tender in an open and objective process. The aim is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers 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 location or nationality and there are legal remedies which may be used against any public body infringing these rules.

The National Procurement Service (NPS) has put in place a number of national arrangements designed to secure better value for money from leveraging the public service’s buying power in relation to a range of goods and services that are commonly purchased across the public service. These national arrangements have benefits that include:

- cash savings;

- administrative savings from reduced duplication of tendering;

- greater purchasing expertise;

- improved consistency; and,

- enhanced service levels.

In some instances the take up of the NPS arrangements has been low. In order to increase the usage of the NPS arrangements and thereby secure best value for money, the Government decided that it should be mandatory for public service bodies to use specified national procurement arrangements. Last year my Department issued Circular 06/12 which implements the Government decision by making it a mandatory requirement that public service bodies avail of specified national arrangements put in place by the NPS. These national arrangements will secure best value for money and facilitate contracting authorities to deliver services within their budgetary constraints.

Where a mandatory framework arrangement exists, any public service body intending to make a purchase other than through the framework arrangement will need to ensure that it can explain the rationale for not using the NPS arrangement and provide a value for money justification that takes account of the full costs including those incurred in managing its own procurement process.

While the key purpose of Circular 6/12 is to enable the State to do more with less by aggregating procurement to secure better value for money, it is worth noting that such aggregation arrangements can be implemented in a manner that achieves value for money with a minimal negative impact, or indeed a positive impact, on SMEs. While a number of the categories of goods and services mandated under the Circular are suited to single supplier national arrangements, these need not be accepted as the norm. The greater use, where appropriate, of multi-supplier frameworks can address local supplier issues while also ensuring on-going cost competitiveness of the framework itself. Such multi-supplier frameworks may also offer SMEs the opportunity to participate in national level contracts, thereby offering valuable reference work when competing for public procurement contracts in other jurisdictions.

In order to encourage greater SME participation the NPS, over the past three years, has conducted a targeted programme of education for suppliers who wish to learn more about doing business with the Irish Public Service. This programme consists of seminars, workshops and large scale 'meet the buyer' events hosted nationwide. To date the NPS has facilitated workshops and presented at seminars to over 3,000 SMEs nationwide. Parallel with these events the NPS also works closely with business representative bodies such as ISME and IBEC to provide briefings for their members.

To summarise: we in government want better value for money for our substantial procurement spend and we want Irish SMEs, where necessary, to form alliances and networks to ensure they can tender on a competitive basis for this work.

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

Question No. 23 answered with Question No. 18.

Questions (22)

Brendan Smith


22. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on whether excess costs have been incurred in payments to former civil servants interviewing candidates for public service jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17871/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

In response to the Deputy’s question I would like to confirm that excess costs have not been incurred in payments to former civil servants interviewing candidates for public service jobs.

The Irish public service has a long history of fair and open recruitment. The Public Appointments Service (PAS) took over the mantle of the Civil Service and Local Appointments Commissioners in 2004, and continue to ensure that all public service posts (filled by PAS) are filled in an open and transparent manner, using an independent merit based system. To ensure that this is the case, it is important to use a mixture of public and private sector board members to ensure as wide a range of expertise as possible on each selection board. A typical selection board appointed by PAS comprises an Independent Chairperson, external expert(s) and nominee(s) of the employing body.

A very stringent shortlisting exercise is conducted so that only the highest calibre candidates are called to interview, greatly reducing the number of interview days for each campaign. PAS processed 38,814 applications for competitions under their control in 2012, and only 4,207 were interviewed.

PAS, in the course of running recruitment competitions for the public service, seeks to ensure that a person sitting on an interview board has the required skills, competence and expertise to assess the suitability of candidates for appointment to that particular post.

PAS uses trained and experienced individuals from both the private and public sectors on such selection boards. The Chairpersons and external experts come from both public and private sector backgrounds. Those assisting in this task who are in receipt of a public or private sector salary receive no payment whatsoever. A large percentage of selection boards consist of unpaid members. Fee paid board member days accounts for only 38% of board days. A fee per day is paid to retired individuals and to those from the private sector (e.g. self-employed) who forego earnings in order to facilitate PAS by sitting on an interview board. The list of individuals who assist PAS in interviewing is constantly changing but is currently approximately 630, of whom approximately 160 are retired public servants. For this work, retired individuals 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.

The figures of the amounts paid to selection board members for the last 5 years indicate an even balance between amounts paid to those retired from the public sector and those from private sector background.

PAS has actively tried to reduce the amount paid on selection boards in the past five years; and my Department has reduced fees paid to retired civil servants acting on selection board members in May 2009, January 2010 and in January 2012. On average, fees paid to retired civil servants for acting on interview boards have decreased by 50% since 2008.

Question No. 23 answered with Question No. 18.

Sale of State Assets

Questions (24)

Charlie McConalogue


24. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the recent discussions he has had with the troika in respect of the sale of State assets and the investment of proceeds from such sales; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17860/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy will be aware, I agreed with the troika in May 2012 that all of the proceeds from asset disposals will be available, in the short term, to be used in one shape or another to support job creating initiatives in the economy. Half of the proceeds will be available to fund employment enhancing projects of a commercial nature. The other half, while destined eventually to pay-down debt, will, in the first instance, be constituted as a fund to underpin additional lending into Ireland, for example by the EIB, in support of further investment in job-creating initiatives.

Plans for the first round of disposal transactions are currently progressing, and I would expect to have the first proceeds available later this year to support the project preparation facility for the new PPP programme and additional commercial and publicly needed capital projects.

Performance Management Systems

Questions (25)

Joe McHugh


25. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide an update on his efforts to implement performance management methodologies within the public sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17735/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Government’s Public Service Reform Plan contains a commitment to strengthen performance management across the public service. Good progress in this regard has been made in the various sectors.

In the Local Authority sector, a performance management and development system (PMDS) has been operating since 2005 and periodic reviews of the system have been undertaken. In line with recommendations of the most recent national PMDS Review of 2011, a local authority competency framework was implemented and PMDS has been linked to other HR policies. In December 2012, further improvements were agreed for implementation in 2013, namely, a 5 point scale for the evaluation of performance; a protocol for dealing with underperformance, including performance improvement plans; and linkage of the system to incremental progression, grievance and disciplinary procedures.

In the Education sector, a key proposal in the latest action plan for the sector is to link performance management systems in Universities, Institutes of Technology and VECs to the awarding of increments and incremental progression. To this end, it is envisaged that systems will be put in place, or existing systems adapted, in advance of the commencement of the 2013/2014 academic year, with links to incremental progression to be in place before commencement of the 2014/2015 academic year.

Turning to the Justice sector, a new performance management system– the Performance Accountability Learning Framework (PALF) – has been introduced on a pilot basis for the sworn members of An Garda Síochána. The Irish Prison Service implements the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) in operation in the Civil Service.

The HSE performance management system was developed in 2011 and implemented for management grades in 2012. It is anticipated that the system will be extended to professional and administrative grades during 2013.

Finally, in relation to the Civil Service, my Department has been working with management and unions to strengthen performance management. Over the past three years, significant changes to the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) in operation in the Civil Service have been agreed. These are being introduced on a phased basis.

The Phase 1 changes introduced for 2012 were aimed at streamlining the practical operation of PMDS. Management accountability was also strengthened, and a manager who fails to manage the performance of their staff effectively over the course of the year must themselves receive a rating of ‘Needs to Improve’( a rating of 2 on a 5 point scale, 5 being the highest).

The changes under Phase 2 for 2013 are designed to strengthen fairness and consistency in how performance is evaluated. Calibration of performance evaluations will be introduced on a phased basis, commencing with calibration by Assistant Secretaries and Principals in respect of their direct reports. Under Calibration, managers at the same grade who are responsible for conducting performance evaluations meet to discuss staff performance with the aim of making sure that managers apply similar standards for all staff members. The fairness of the system will also be underpinned by strengthening the process through which individual members of staff can seek a review of their evaluation, and introducing a process for external review.

The system of ratings has also been revised, with improved descriptions of performance levels which make explicit reference to the requirement for a Performance Improvement Action Plan in cases where performance is not satisfactory and for subsequent disciplinary action to be taken where performance has still not improved. An evaluation of ‘Fully Achieved Expectations’ (a rating of 3) will now be required for the award of an increment.

There has been substantial progress on strengthening performance management in the public service. However, we must continue to foster a culture of effective management of performance and to deal effectively with underperformance where it occurs.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (26)

Micheál Martin


26. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when departmental expenditure targets for the period 2014-2016 will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17857/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Departmental current expenditure ceilings for 2014 were first set out in the Comprehensive Expenditure Report 2012-2014, published in December 2011, which first set out Departmental expenditure ceilings on a three year basis. Updated 2014 ceilings, taking account of pressures and adjustments, were set out in the Expenditure Report 2013 (published in December 2012) together with an aggregate current expenditure ceiling for 2015.

It is intended that the Departmental expenditure ceilings for the period 2014-2016 will be published later this year as part of the Budget.

Ministerial Travel

Questions (27)

Jerry Buttimer


27. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on his visit to Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17737/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

In order to promote Ireland over the St. Patrick's Day period, I led an ambitious programme to Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines from 13 to 21 March 2013. The visit included the first senior Ministerial visit to Manila, the first in over a decade to Jakarta and the first ever Ministerial call on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) HQ.

Over the course of my visit I took every opportunity to promote trade, investment and tourism in Ireland, to reach out to the Irish Diasporas across the region, to strengthen political links and to tell the story of our recovery.

I undertook 24 separate engagements during the period, details of which are set out below below.

Examples include a speech on Ireland’s economy I delivered to a packed auditorium in Manila, an event organised by the European Union External Action Service, facilitated by Ambassador Ledoux. I made a visit to the corporate HQ of Indonesia’s biggest Foreign Direct Investor in Ireland, attended financial services Enterprise Ireland (EI) sponsored breakfast in Singapore, led an Enterprise Ireland trade delegation to the Asian Development Bank and participated in an IDA/Enterprise Ireland business lunch in Jakarta.

Irish community St. Patrick's Day events were hosted in the three cities.

I led Singapore’s St. Patrick's Day parade with estimates of around 12,000 in attendance. The parade was partnered with the Down’s syndrome Associations in Singapore and Indonesia. Singaporean Ministers and MPs attended the Embassy reception and parade and I was guest of honour at a Singapore/Ireland Fund lunch for major donors.

I had meetings with the Deputy PM and Minister of Finance of Singapore, the Minister for Trade of Indonesia and the Deputy Foreign Minister. In Manila I met Foreign Secretary del Rosario and the Secretary for Budget and Management. In Jakarta I met with the Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN and in Manila with the Vice President of the Asian Development Bank. (The President had just been appointed Governor of Japan’s Central Bank.)

I travelled with 2 officials, my private secretary and my press officer. While in Singapore, I and my officials stayed in the Ambassador's residence in order to save costs. There is no such accommodation in either Manila or Jakarta.

The visit achieved significant media coverage in the region and included an editorial in “The Jakarta Post”, extensive associated coverage in Indonesia’s business press, front page pieces in The Philippines media, the Raffles interview slot in Singapore’s “Business Times” and TV news reports across all three capitals.

Every possible attempt was made to keep costs low and the costs incurred by my Department to date in respect of the 2012 St. Patrick’s Day overseas travel programme are detailed in the following table:

Costs for St Patrick's Day Travel



Minister: Hotel Manila


Private Secretary: Hotel Manila


Press Officer: Hotel Manila




Visa Costs






The total costs of the visit have not yet been finalised. Invoices will be submitted in due course through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for reimbursement by my Department.

Visit to Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Mr. Brendan Howlin, T.D. 13 – 21 March 2013

Wednesday 13 March

15:45 Arrive Soekarno Hatta International Airport, Jakarta.

Transfer to Hotel.

19:30 Dinner briefing by Ireland House - Embassy/Enterprise Ireland (EI)/ IDA Ireland.

Thursday 14 March

09:30 Coffee briefing with EU Delegation, Jakarta.

10:30 Call on H.E. Mr. Wardana, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.

11:00 Call on H.E. Mr. Gita Wirjawan, Minister for Trade.

12:15 Press Conference – principal Indonesian media outlets.

Contract signing ceremony – Tango Telecom (EI client) and XL Indonesia.

12:45 Roundtable lunch and discussion for high-level Indonesian business contacts, EI clients and IDA clients.

14:30 Jakarta Post 1:1 interview.

14:45 Contract signing ceremony – ICDL Asia (EI client) and YPL Indonesia.

15:00 Depart hotel.

15:30 Call on Mr. Lim Hong Hin, Deputy Secretary General of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

18:30 Depart hotel (check-out).

19:00 Indonesian-Irish community networking evening, Molly Malone’s Irish Pub, Minister to speak.

21:00 Transfer to Purwakarta, West Java.

22:30 Welcomed by senior management of Indorama Synthetics PT (major IDA client with investment in Co. Cavan). Overnightat guesthouse.

Friday 15 March

09:00 Site visit at Indorama Synthetics PT plant: meeting with senior management.

14:00 Depart Bandung for Singapore.

16:50 Arrive Changi International airport.

Transfer to Residence.

18:30 Depart Residence.

18:45 Meeting with IDA target company Transportation Partners/Lion Air.

19:30 St. Patrick’s Society of Singapore Annual Ball Minister to speak.

Saturday 16 March

12:15 Depart Residence.

12:30 Embassy St Patrick’s Day reception and lunch at first Singapore St. Patrick’s Festival.

Minister to speak.

Minister of State, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Manpower, Mayor (Southwest District), Ms Amy Khor to attend.

14:30 Visit Singapore Gaelic Lions Skills Demonstration at UOB Plaza.

15:00 Visit Molly Malone’s Irish Pub.

Musical performance by Dunleavy family.

15:30 Return to Residence.

19:00 Visit OCBC Building, One Raffles Place & Merlion for photographs.

19:30 Dinner hosted by Ambassador Hayes.

Sunday 17 March

09:30 Depart Residence.

10:00 St. Patrick’s Day Mass.

12:30 Informal Singapore-Ireland Fund lunch hosted by Dr. Stanley Quek.

15:00 VIP Parade Guests Assemble.

15:30 St Patrick’s Day Parade.

Minister to speak.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry for Law and Ministry of Education, Ms. Indranee Rajah to attend.

16:00 Post-parade community reception (St. Patrick’s Festival).

17:00 Return to Residence.

Monday 18 March

07:15 Depart Residence.

07:30 Enterprise Ireland Business Breakfast (banking/financial focus) with EI Clients: Corvil, First Derivatives, Information Mosaic and Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX).

09:15 Call on Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Finance.

10:00 Interview with Vikram Khanna, Deputy Editor, Singapore Business Times.

12:25 Depart Singapore for Manila, Philippines.

16:00 Arrive Ninoy Aquino International airport.

16:45 Visit to Malate Church.

Guided tour by Irish Columban Order.

17:30 Transfer to Hotel

19:30 Filipino-Irish community networking evening.

Minister to speak.

Honorary Consul General’s Residence.

Tuesday 19 March

10:15 Meeting with Asian Development Bank constituency office officials.

11:15 Meeting with Acting President of the ADB, Mr. Bindu Lohani.

12:00 Contract signing ceremony PM Group (EI client).

12:15 Irish business networking lunch.

Minister to give opening address.

13:30 Call on Mr. Florencio Abad, Secretary of Budget and Management.

16:00 Call on the Hon. Albert F. Del Rosario, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines.

20:00 Dinner with Irish Honorary Consul General, Ms. Noreen F. Trota.

Wednesday 20 March

10:00 Public Lecture, “Ireland's Economic Recovery within the Euro Zone”.

Invitees: Think Tanks, NGOs, Government Agencies, Media.

11:30 Media Interviews.

14:30 One to one Interview with Manila Bulletin (largest broadsheet paper in the Philippines), Rob Mabasa, Diplomatic Correspondent.

Thursday 21 March

11:00 Debriefing on Visit.

17:35 Depart Manila for Dublin.

Ministerial Advisers Remuneration

Questions (28)

Mary Lou McDonald


28. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide in a tabular format a list of all his special advisers' pay and that of his Minister of State, to include each salary, name of employee above principal officer standard scale salary rate; and if he will supply the total pay bill for all his special advisers for 2012. [17836/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

In response to the Deputy’s question the following table outlines the name and salary of each Special Adviser appointed by me:



Salary (per annum)


Anne Byrne

Special Adviser (D/PER)

€83,337 with effect from March 2011

€86,604 with effect from March 2012.

Ronan O’Brien

Special Adviser (D/PER)

€114,000 with effect May 2011


As I have advised in previous Parliamentary Questions since I appointed Anne Byrne and Ronan O’Brien as special advisers no salary increases have been requested in respect of either appointment.

However, on appointment, Ms Anne Byrne was placed on the second point of the PO Standard non-PPC scale with effect from 10 March 2011. In accordance with the normal practice Ms Byrne has been awarded an increment on each anniversary of her appointment.

Since his appointment Mr. O'Brien has had no increase.

Public Sector Reform Implementation

Questions (29)

Thomas P. Broughan


29. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the PeoplePoint project; if he will outline what the project will entail and the way in which the human resources function will be changed in the public sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17739/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Public Service Reform Plan (November 2011) identified the implementation of shared services as a major element in the Reform Programme.

In May 2012, a formal decision was taken by the Government to set up a Civil Service HR and Pensions Administration Shared Service Centre for the Civil Service, called PeoplePoint, in Clonskeagh in Dublin; to consolidate transactional HR activities and allow organisations to focus their resources on core activities.

PeoplePoint Project: The PeoplePoint Project is tasked with delivering a shared services centre to process transactional HR and Pension Administration to 40 Civil Service Departments and Offices. The project will transition the 40 in-scope bodies on a phased basis over the next 18 months.

The project will:

- Create a HR Shared Service Centre with multi-channel access for managers and staff via portal, phone, email or post

- Improve customer service by providing consistent, effective and reliable HR Services to all staff across the Civil Service

- Develop a “customer service” culture within the shared service centre

- Optimise HR processes to transition administration to the shared services centre

- Improve technology, where necessary, to enhance processes

- Create a service management capability to drive on time service delivery and ongoing continuous improvement

- Enhance HR’s capability

- Improve governance of HR processes

PeoplePoint commenced its HR services operation at the end of March, 2013. It is estimated that with the establishment of PeoplePoint and post 2014, when all 40 Civil Service Departments and Offices in-scope have transitioned, and the shared service is stabilised, that the annual cost of HR services for the civil service will be reduced significantly by €12.5m per annum and by 149 staff.

PeoplePoint is staffed and managed by Civil Servants and currently does not provide services to the broader public service. It will change the way Human Resources will function in the Civil Service in a number of ways including:

- Improved administrative efficiency and by reducing costs

- A shift in HR focus in Departments/Offices away from compliance and administrative personnel activity to work that is of higher value to the business of the organisation.

- Transforming HR service delivery across the entire Civil Service which in turn will enable and drive continuing organisational change and on-going delivery of front-line services to the citizen

- Freeing up the capacity of the resources who process those HR transactions within the individual organisations to more front-line core activities

The introduction of PeoplePoint at the end of March represents a very significant step in making Shared Services a reality across the Civil Service.