I propose to take Questions Nos. 291 and 292 together.
As part of the Public Service Reform Plan, I undertook to review how the functions currently carried out by Forfás might be integrated with the resources of my Department in order to further enhance the formulation and implementation of national enterprise policy. Following consideration of the matter and engagement with the Board of Forfás, I decided, in May 2012, to proceed with the proposed integration.
This move forms part of a broader reform programme which I have been progressing across the Department and its Agencies, which includes:
- the merger of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority;
- the reform of the 5 workplace relations bodies into two organisations;
- restructuring the enterprise support model for micro and small businesses, including the dissolution of the 35 CEBs and the creation of the new Local Enterprise Offices;
- restructuring transport and enterprise development bodies in the Shannon region.
The rationale for integrating Forfás into the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is to strengthen my Department’s capacity to develop and implement enterprise policy. The integration will, facilitate improvements in the use of existing resources against the backdrop of the moratorium on Public Sector recruitment. Some savings may arise when the integration process is complete, especially in the Corporate Services area. However, it is not possible to quantify these potential savings at this stage of the project.
I did not consider it necessary to engage external consultants to assist in the assessment of plans to integrate Forfás into the Department, or in the integration project itself, and accordingly no such related costs arose. The project has been managed by an Implementation Team chaired by my Department’s Secretary General and comprising representatives from Forfás, my own Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.