Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (127)

Eric J. Byrne


127. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on the multiple independent procurements of research grant management software by agencies under the control of his Department and the total cost to the taxpayer of these systems; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the same supplier has supplied all but one of these systems and that all are compliant with EU Commission standards on the exchange of research information and are all capable of being integrated into one grant management system as has been done in the US and the UK with the consequent savings that produces; the reason despite the existence of a national research platform report, no progress has been made on the implementation of an integrated national research platform; if his attention has been drawn to the consequent diversion of resources in research bodies, HEs, and others to the management of these multiple systems and away from the proper good governance of public resources spent on research. [45564/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The relevant enterprise agencies under the remit of my Department are Enterprise Ireland (EI), IDA Ireland (IDA) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). These are independent agencies, each with their respective statutory functions, governance and management structures. Accordingly, procurement is a day-to-day operational matter for the agencies and for their respective Accounting Officers and not one in which I have a function.

Each of the agencies operates a payments / accounting system for research funding. I have been informed that SFI and EI operate a research funding payments / accounting system that operates on the same platform and was supplied by the same vendor following separate tendering procedures undertaken by the agencies. IDA Ireland operates a different system provided by another vendor.

My understanding is that because of the distinct mandates, different types of grants and a client base that can be variable, each system is highly configured and customised to meet the individual needs of each agency. To the extent that there are synergies and common issues that can be jointly addressed, both SFI and EI, along with other research funding agencies using the same research payments/accounting system, have joined to create a user group which allows them to come together to explore ways to optimise their use of the system. This would be a common approach across the Civil and wider Public Service (e.g. Local Authorities and Government Departments that use the same payroll software etc.).