Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Questions (37)

Clare Daly

Question:

37. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade 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. [14843/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The occasional use of officers’ private vehicles for official purposes may be permitted in accordance with official travel policy guidelines issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in the following circumstances:

- no suitable public transport is available; or

- public transport is available only at equal or greater expense; or the use of public transport would result in severe inconvenience and/or inefficiency; and

- the use of the officer’s private vehicle has been specifically authorised in advance by the officer’s manager; and

- the vehicle is insured and the officer has signed an appropriate indemnity form.

There are no official cars available to assistant principals and principal officers, or their equivalents, at the Department’s headquarters in Ireland. Cars for official purposes are provided at certain Missions abroad, but from time to time officers abroad may have to use their private cars for official business in accordance with the guidelines cited above.

Officers using their private vehicles may be entitled to mileage rates set by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and, depending on the length and duration of the journey, they may claim other travel and subsistence expenses in accordance with relevant circulars issued by that Department. It should be noted that, in the case of an officer who uses his/her own vehicle where public transport could have been used without detriment to the public interest, the Department’s policy is that the maximum payable for mileage cannot exceed the cost of the available public transport option.

I am not aware of any complaints concerning the use of private vehicles by the Department’s staff.

Compliance with the relevant travel guidelines is subject to oversight by the Department’s Internal Audit and by the Comptroller and Auditor General.