I propose to take Questions Nos. 50 and 51 together.
The Regulation of Lobbying Act was enacted in 2015. Section 22 of the Act provides that specific categories of Designated Public Officials (“DPOs”) are subject to a one-year “cooling-off” period, during which they cannot engage in lobbying activities in specific circumstances, or be employed by, or provide services to, a person carrying on lobbying activities in specific circumstances.
The relevant DPOs for whom a “cooling-off” period applies are Ministers of the Government and Ministers of State, Special Advisers appointed under section 11 of the Public Services Management Act 1997 and public servants prescribed as a DPO by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform under section 6(2) of the Regulation of Lobbying Act, such as Secretary General, Second Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Assistant Secretary or Director.
The cooling-off period is a statutory requirement and applies for the full one-year term unless the relevant DPO applies to the Standards in Public Office 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.
The Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour sets out further guidance on the acceptance of outside appointments and of consultancy engagement following resignation or retirement (Section 20). Civil Servants who hold positions which are “designated positions” for purposes of the Ethics Acts shall not, within twelve months of resigning or retiring from the service, accept an offer of appointment from an employer outside the Civil Service or accept an engagement in a particular consultancy project where the nature and terms of such appointment or engagement could lead to a conflict of interest, without first obtaining approval from the appropriate authority. Officers below Assistant Secretary level must apply to the Secretary General or Head of Office in which they are serving, or have last served before retirement or resignation. Officers at and above Assistant Secretary level must apply to the Outside Appointments Board.
Records are not maintained of officers who have applied to my Department for such approval.