Standard Authentication Framework Environment

Questions (201)

John Curran

Question:

201. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason precedent is being given to an in-house SAFE2 form of identity verification over internationally recognised documents that allow safe passage between countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10002/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

SAFE registration is the process used by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to establish and verify a person’s identity in order to ensure that –

- the person using a service is the person they claim to be,

- that nobody else is using that person’s identity for the purpose of claiming a payment or service,

- that the person is not claiming another payment or using another service under a different identity and,

- to minimise the requirement for people to provide the same identity information over and over again when accessing different services.

The SAFE standard, which stands for Standard Authentication Framework Environment, is a standard for establishing and verifying an individual’s identity for the purposes of accessing public services, the standard was agreed by the Government in 2005.

The SAFE standard has four levels:

- SAFE 0 = No assurance of identity

- SAFE 1 = Balance of probabilities (the minimum authentication level for the allocation of a PPS Number)

- SAFE 2 = Substantial assurance (the minimum authentication level for issuing a Public Services Card)

- SAFE 3 = Beyond reasonable doubt (use of biometrics - this level is not used) 

SAFE Level 2 (SAFE 2) registration is used for the issuance of a Public Services Card and MyGovID, and allows a person to verify their identity to a substantial level of assurance once in their life for use across an increasing number of public services, both in person and online.  SAFE 2 is the only identity registration process employed by the State that involves a face to face component, in line with international best practice and the EU eIDAS regulation, which has direct application to Ireland.  SAFE 2 is the highest level of identity assurance available to public bodies, providing a more secure and robust identity infrastructure than those of other identity documents and cards.  Neither a passport, nor a driving licence, is sufficient to validate an identity to SAFE Level 2.  The State has an obligation to its citizens to employ SAFE 2, the best identity process currently available to it, as part of public service provision to ensure citizens' identity, data and rights are protected.

National Development Plan

Questions (202)

Dara Calleary

Question:

202. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the competitive criteria that will be used for the allocation of funds through the urban regeneration and development fund, rural development fund, climate action fund and disruptive technologies fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9265/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The competitive criteria for the four funds initiated in the NDP will be prepared in the coming weeks by the responsible Departments, in consultation with my Department. As the funds are geared towards different sectors and purposes, the same set of detailed criteria will not apply to all funds.  However, there are a number of existing models, such as the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) operated by the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government, that will be considered when deciding on how the new funds should operate. 

Each fund will seek to leverage additional private investment, drawing on current and previous national experience and international good practice, and will also seek to encourage collaborative proposals from a range of different stakeholders.  

The overriding objective of the funds is to target the delivery of some of the most important objectives and priorities detailed in the NPF, and the criteria to be used for each fund will be informed by this objective.

Public Private Partnerships

Questions (203)

Dara Calleary

Question:

203. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of projects that will be subject to the revised public private partnership rules as announced in the NDP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9266/18]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The National Development Plan 2018 – 2027 summarises the key findings and recommendations agreed as part of the PPP review and the detailed report of the review will be published shortly.  When the PPP review is published, the recommendations will be included in the PPP policy guidelines and will apply to all future PPP projects. 

The programme of existing approved PPP projects, announced under Phases 1 – 3 of the Government’s Stimulus PPP programme, will continue to be procured under the pre-existing policy framework, as already planned, and will be unaffected by the changes being introduced. 

In ensuring Departments obtain the best value-for-money from public capital investment, PPPs, just as traditionally procured projects, are subject to the same robust and rigorous project appraisal process as traditionally procured projects. 

All projects over €20m are subjected to a Cost Benefit Analysis or Cost Effectiveness Analysis.  In addition, all public investment projects valued at €20m or above must also be referred to the NDFA for advice in terms of the options for financing and procuring the projects.   

PPPs will therefore continue to be a procurement option available to Government for appropriately structured projects which demonstrate value for money over a traditional procurement option and which meet the robust and rigorous tests for project appraisal that apply to all public investment projects under the Public Spending Code.

It is essential that projects are judged on their merits and if PPPs offer better value-for-money than traditional procurement in a particular case, they should be selected on that basis.

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (204)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

204. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of freedom of information requests his Department has received in the past eight years; the number of which were accepted without further escalation and not accepted, respectively; the number of requests which were not accepted that were escalated to the Information Commissioner; the number of which the Information Commissioner ruled in favour of the person requesting the freedom of information; the number of which the Information Commissioner ruled against his Department; the number his Department appealed to the High Court; the number where the High Court ruled against his Department in favour of the applicant; the number which were then brought to the Court of Appeal by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9296/18]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The number of Freedom of Information Requests received by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in each of the years 2012 to 2017 (the Department was established during 2011) is set out in the following table.

Year

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Number of FOI requests received

178

99

208

309

349

380

Statistical data in relation to Freedom of Information Requests for Government Departments and all Information Commissioner decisions can be obtained at www.oic.ie.

My Department has never appealed a decision of the Information Commissioner to the High Court.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (205)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

205. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the capital spend that will be required in each of the next ten years or as far as forecasts permit that will be allowed to be spent, in each case, at 4% of GNI star and GDP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9405/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I assume the Deputy is requesting information on the projected level of gross voted capital for each year over the period 2018-2027 if public capital investment was fixed at a 4 per cent share of the relevant measure of national income referenced by the Deputy, i.e. GNI* and GDP.  

The latest forecasts published by the Department of Finance alongside Budget 2018, as detailed in Annex 3 of the Economic and Fiscal Outlook are for the period to 2021.  The Exchequer resources allocated for investment under the National Development Plan are based on projected nominal growth in national income (GNI*) averaging 4 per cent over the period 2022-2027 (2 per cent volume growth and 2 per cent growth in the GNI* deflator). This aligns with the most recent projection for Ireland's potential growth from the European Commission for Ireland for the 2020s.

The level of Exchequer investment that would equate to a 4 per cent share of projected GNI* - using the projections adopted in the NDP - and projected GDP - assuming nominal GDP growth of 4 per cent for the period 2022 - 2027, as well as the total for the ten-year period are set out in the following table.  The level of Exchequer investment set out in the NDP is also included in the table for the Deputy's convenience.   

€   Billion

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

2026

2027

Total

Investment   proposed under the NDP

5.8

7.3

7.9

8.6

8.9

9.4

10.0

10.5

11.0

11.6

91.0

Investment at   4% of GNI*

8.0

8.3

8.6

9.0

9.3

9.7

10.1

10.5

10.9

11.4

95.8

Investment at   4% of GDP

12.1

12.6

13.1

13.7

14.2

14.8

15.4

16.0

16.6

17.3

145.7

As the Deputy will be aware, the December 2016 report of the Economic Statistics Review Group recommended the use  of GNI* as the most accurate measure of the size of the Irish economy.  Increasing public capital investment too much or too quickly could heighten overheating risks and exacerbate capacity constraints in the economy.  Potential overheating risks were addressed as part of the review of the capital plan as published in September.  This highlights the importance of adopting a prudent and measured approach to increased public capital spending as reflected in the National Development Plan in circumstances where there is some uncertainty regarding the cyclical position of the economy and the risk that the continuation of strong economic growth could result in overheating of the economy.

National Development Plan

Questions (206)

James Browne

Question:

206. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if each capital application to his Department from projects in County Wexford will be provided; the type and extent of each application; and the status of each. [9411/18]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I should first explain that my role is with respect to determining the national capital expenditure envelope, its allocation at the overall sectoral level and to support Departments with a framework that ensures resources are allocated efficiently. I do not have a role in respect of applications or proposals for individual projects at county level.

The ten-year National Development Plan (NDP) has been put in place to underpin the implementation of the National Planning Framework (NPF) to support the development of all counties and regions, both urban and rural areas.

The NDP sets out an investment programme of €116 billion, aligned to the ten National Strategic Outcomes (NSOs) detailed in the NPF which are critical to long-term economic, social and environmental sustainability in the period to 2040. Investment in urban and rural regeneration and development, drawing on two new Funds with total resources of €3 billion established for this purpose have the potential to have a transformative impact on both urban and rural areas and communities countrywide.

Total funding of €8.8 billion is allocated to the NSO of strengthened rural economies and communities which is a cornerstone of NDP, including in relation to the delivery of the National Broadband Plan and significant investment in regional and local roads. The NDP also contains, as a priority, increased investment in public transport including train fleets.

Chapter 5 of the NDP details as a fundamental objective of the Plan the investment planned in enhancing regional growth potential through an integrated programme of measures including, for example, regional sectoral clustering and the promotion of entrepreneurship on a regional basis. The Plan also highlights the importance of strengthening Ireland's international connectivity through continued investment in ports and airports, including under the Regional Airports Programme. It sets out the major programme of investment planned in the heritage area including in national parks and nature reserves. Continued investment over the ten years of the Plan to ensure the sustainable management of water resources is a further investment priority which is clearly relevant to all regions and counties. Finally the Plan sets out the investments planned in the areas of quality childcare, education and health services which are a defining characteristic of attractive, successful and competitive places.

Under the NPF, and as set out in section 6.3 of the NDP, the three Regional Assemblies are now tasked with co-ordinating, promoting and supporting the strategic planning and sustainable development of their regions, consistent with the objectives of the NPF, through the preparation of Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES). The RSES for the Southern Region provides the opportunity for the priorities for County Wexford, for example, that are included in the existing Wexford County Development Plan, to focus on sustainable growth, quality of life and on achievable employment and population growth within Wexford and the Southern Region to be integrated into a regional investment plan which is expected to be a major driver of the implementation of the NPF.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (207)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

207. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the new expenditure in the latest capital plan compared to the previous plan, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9436/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy will be aware, the previous capital plan Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021, published in September 2015, provided gross voted capital expenditure allocations to Departments of €27 billion, covering the period 2016 – 2021. The new National Development Plan covers the period 2018 - 2027, providing gross voted capital expenditure allocations of €91 billion. Annual allocations under both plans are set out in the following table.

€, billion

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

2026

2027

NDP

N/A

N/A

5.8

7.3

7.9

8.6

8.9

9.4

10

10.5

11

11.6

2015 Plan

3.8

3.9

4.2

4.6

5

5.4

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Variance

N/A

N/A

1.6

2.7

2.9

3.2

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

The allocation of gross voted capital expenditure in the 2015 Capital Plan, Building on Recovery was €19.2 billion over the period 2018 – 2021. The National Development Plan allocates €29.6 billion over the same period, an increase of €10.4 billion.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (208, 211)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

208. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the forecast capital spend in each of the next five years; the components of this spend, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9437/18]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

211. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his Department's capital allocation in each of the years 2018 to 2022; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each of those years. [9524/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 208 and 211 together.

My Department's capital allocation for the years 2018 to 2022 is outlined in the following table.

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

Total

€5.2m

€4.9m

€4.9m

€5.0m

€5.0m

€25.0m

In this period, capital expenditure by the Department will be principally invested by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer to support the implementation of the Public Service ICT Strategy, as well as to invest in the Department's own IT infrastructure. In addition, some capital has been allocated in the 2018 Revised Estimates to complete the E-Cohesion project (€85,000) and to invest in the Civil Service Learning and Development learning management system (€1.6 million).

For sectoral allocations throughout Government, I can refer the Deputy to Annex 1 of the recently published National Development Plan.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (209)

Alan Kelly

Question:

209. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the meetings he or officials of his Department have had with an association (details supplied) in 2017 and 2018; the nature of these meetings; and the persons who attended these meetings. [9441/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Meetings in respect of collective bargaining issues involving the Association concerned are a matter in the first instance for my colleague the Minister for Justice and his Department. In this context my Department at official level only would attend such meetings as may be appropriate from time to time throughout the annual period.

Public Services Card

Question No. 211 answered with Question No. 208.

Questions (210)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

210. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans for the expanded use of the public services card; the services that will require presentation of the card to access State services and products in each of the years 2018 to 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9456/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Public Services Card (PSC), and its online counterpart MyGovID, is the Government’s standard personal identity verification scheme, and it is core to delivering valuable public services to the people who need them in a secure and efficient manner.  The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is the lead implementation body for the production of the Public Services Card, the MyGovID electronic identity service, and the SAFE 2 identity registration process which underpins both via their network of Intreo offices.  My Department works closely with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to govern the development of policy and manage the integration of the PSC and MyGovID into appropriate services provided by the Public Service.

In order to ensure services are provided to the right person, to protect personal data, and to support efficient service delivery by using a single, standard identity verification scheme across the public service, a growing number of public service providers are requiring that proof of identity is underpinned by the SAFE 2 identity verification standard.  SAFE 2 is the highest level of citizen identity assurance available to public service bodies, and it is a matter for each to decide how the SAFE 2 identity verification standard is to be utilised for their individual services. 

Over the course of the past year, my Department and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection have worked with a number of public bodies to integrate the Public Services Card and MyGovID, improving access to and security of their services.  Currently, the Public Services Card and MyGovID underpin access to social welfare entitlements, first time adult passport applications, citizenship applications, Revenue services and driver theory test applications.

My Department along with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection continues to engage with Departments to assist with the integration of the PSC and MyGovID into services in line with the schedule set out in the eGovernment Strategy. The eGovernment Strategy 2017 - 2020, which was published last year, lists the commitments by Departments and Offices to adopt the PSC and MyGovID infrastructure for specified public services within the listed timeframes http://egovstrategy.gov.ie/.

Question No. 211 answered with Question No. 208.

Public Sector Staff Redeployment

Questions (212)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

212. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason the attention of a person (details supplied) was not drawn to the fact that if the person changed their first preference for the mobility scheme to ensure that an upgrade decision made by his Department under public service reform was enabled, the person would be forfeiting their first preference choice for transfer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9552/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy will be aware, Phase 1A of the new Civil Service Mobility scheme for the general service grades of CO and EO to make mobility requests within and between 46 locations (excluding within Dublin) launched on 13 November 2017. Other phases of the scheme, including Mobility within Dublin, will launch on future dates. The scheme offers an opportunity for staff members to apply for mobility (i.e. transfer) through an open, fair, and transparent system. The centralised scheme comes under the remit of my Department, and is administered through HR Shared Service, National Shared Service Office.

Phase 1A of the scheme replaces the following legacy transfer mechanisms: 

- Central Transfer Lists;

- Central Application Facility (CAF);

- Organisational Internal Regional Transfer Lists.

Staff members, who previously applied under the above mechanisms, must reapply for the new scheme and there was an opportunity to apply their original transfer application date up until close of business 7 February 2018. Local HR Divisions will have the facility to initiate offers of Mobility from the scheme with effect from 15 March 2018 and may continue to use the legacy mechanisms referred to above up until this date.

I understand that officials from my Department are in contact with the staff member in question with regard to her application under the new Civil Service Mobility scheme.

Additional information on the scheme can be found at http://hr.per.gov.ie/civil-service-mobility/.

Public Sector Staff Retirements

Questions (213)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

213. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of plans to increase the compulsory retirement age from 65 to 70 years of age for public servants recruited after 1 April 2004 as per his announcement in December 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9626/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 53517/2017 on 14 December 2017.

The legislation is on the list of priority legislation for publication in the Spring/Summer Session 2018.