I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 and 121 together.
The Regulation of Lobbying Act provides restrictions and conditions on the taking up of certain employments by certain designated public officials (DPO) for a specified period of time where a possible conflict of interest arises.
In my Department the positions of Secretary General, Assistant Secretary, and grades equivalent to Deputy Secretary and Director are prescribed as designated officials for the purposes of the Act.
Additionally, the cooling-off period applies to Ministers of the Government and Ministers of State and Special Advisors appointed under Section 11 of the Public Services Management Act 1997
Section 22 of the Act provides that designated officials are subject to a one-year cooling off period after leaving the Civil Service, during which they cannot engage in lobbying activities or take up employment with a person who carries on lobbying activities as set out in the Act. The purpose of this is to manage conflicts of interest between the public and private sectors.
The cooling-off period is a statutory requirement and applies for the full one-year term unless the relevant DPO applies to the Standards Commission for consent to waive or reduce their cooling-off period.
It is the responsibility of the relevant DPO to seek consent prior to taking up an offer of employment (or to provide services). Statistics on the number of applications for consent under section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 are included in the annual Regulation of Lobbying report published by the Standards in Public Office Commission.
All Civil Servants in my Department are also required to read and note the contents of the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour on appointment. This provides further guidance on the acceptance of an appointment of employment or particular consultancy project after retirement or resignation, where the nature and terms of such an appointment could lead to a conflict of interest or the perception of such and their obligations on obtaining approval for such an appointment.
Under the Code of Standards and Behaviour, civil servants who intend to engage with or be connected with any outside body that has potential conflicts of interest must declare their intention and apply to the Secretary General before accepting any position.
My Department does not collect information relating to the prospective employment of staff retiring or resigning.