Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Questions (17, 22)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

17. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the level of rationalisation of State bodies undertaken since the Government came into office to date. [42294/13]

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Michael McGrath

Question:

22. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding the reduction in the number of State boards and agencies; the savings that will be achieved from this in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42486/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 22 together.

As the Deputies are aware, the rationalisation of State bodies is a key deliverable of the Public Service Reform Plan. My Department is currently monitoring the implementation of the measures on a quarterly basis. The latest tables which detail this progress to end Quarter 3 2013 can be found on my Department's website. In summary, the tables show that significant progress has been made by Departments on implementation. To date, rationalisation and amalgamation measures involving 44 bodies have been fully implemented, most recently the abolition of the VECs, which were replaced by a much smaller number of Education and Training Boards. Measures involving a further 63 bodies are at advanced legislative or administrative stages.

Further measures, involving 109 bodies, were identified under a critical review process undertaken in 2012 as part of the Public Service Reform Plan and are currently being implemented. The Public Service Reform Plan aims to secure €20 million in enhanced service efficiencies and value-for-money from the rationalisation programme, a target that will be achieved. The bulk of the savings are derived from a reduction in the number of public servants working in the merged entities and from other administrative efficiencies.

From the outset I 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 reducing 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.

Within my own area of control the Commission on Public Service Appointments was merged into the Office of the Ombudsman with effect from October 2012. Arrangements are also currently underway for the merger of the Valuation Office, the Property Registration Authority and Ordnance Survey Ireland; and the measure concerning the State Laboratory and the Forensic Science Laboratory is progressing.