My Department has engaged Pobal to manage programmes and administer programme funding over the past two decades across a number of different programme areas including early years care and education, or child care, youth services and the ABC scheme co-funded by Atlantic Philanthropies. The largest of these relates to the administration of child care schemes and associated activity with that sector. Pobal provides services in the areas of programme specification and design, business system specification and design, customer service, case management, funding decommital and recovery, contract management and compliance. Pobal has been identified as the scheme administrator for the forthcoming affordable childcare scheme, which will replace a number of existing child care schemes administered by it. The Bill for this scheme passed Second Stage in recent weeks.
Pobal is not under the remit of my Department. As the Deputy is aware, its parent Department is the Department of Rural and Community Development. The services it provides to my Department are managed under a multi-level governance framework, specifically service level agreements, programmes of work and individual programme agreements. The high-level terms of the relationship between Pobal and my Department are set out within these agreements. These outline Pobal’s legislative obligations and the oversight arrangements in place. Pobal is also subject to the revised code of practice for the governance of State bodies, relevant circulars and the terms of the corporate framework under its parent Department.
The services Pobal delivers to my Department are formalised within programmes of work on an annual basis and are not subject to public procurement requirements. Finally, the cost of Pobal’s delivery of services to my Department is also agreed on an annual basis by individual programme areas and is subject to review and ongoing scrutiny to ensure value for money for the Exchequer funding.