Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Questions (101)

Clare Daly

Question:

101. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the protocol in relation to assistant principals and principal officers using their private cars and claiming unvouched expenses when official cars are available in his Department; if he has received any complaints regarding same; and the oversight that is in place to deal with same. [14845/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Travel Policy operating in my Department fully accords with the requirements of Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform circulars and Revenue Commissioner guidelines.

My Department does not have an official car for staff travel purposes.

The Department’s Travel Policy places a duty on all Heads of Units to ensure that only essential travel on official business is undertaken. All travel on official business must be approved by an officer’s superior in advance.

Officers are encouraged to make maximum use of public transportation options for official travel where possible. Staff are authorised to use their own cars on official business only where no suitable public transport is available or where public transport is available only at equal or greater expense or where the use of public transport would result in the loss of official time which it is necessary to avoid. Where the use of an officer’s private car is approved for official duties, travel expenses are paid in accordance with the motor travel rates sanctioned by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Department encourages the use of car-pooling to minimise costs if a number of officers are travelling to the same location for official purposes.

As regards oversight, the Department’s Travel Policy requires that Authorising Officers, when approving an officer’s travel claim, must ensure that:

(a) the travel undertaken was approved in advance and was planned in such a way as to minimise costs;

(b) the expenses claimed have actually and necessarily been incurred in relation to the performance of the officer’s official duties;

(c) the claim conforms to the regulations in force on travel and subsistence expenses;

(e) the claim form has been completed correctly and the appropriate mileage rates (if any) have been used.

In addition the Department’s Finance Unit separately verifies that the various travel rules and rates have been correctly applied and that the claim has been completed properly and authorised at the appropriate level in advance of making payment in respect of any travel/expense claim.

Travel and expenses claims are periodically reviewed by the Department’s Internal Audit Unit as well as being open to examination by the Comptroller and Auditor General on an annual basis.

Questions Nos. 102 and 103 withdrawn.