Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Ceisteanna (80, 124, 130, 132, 133)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

80. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach the number of full-time and part-time staff employed in the strategic communications unit in 2017 and to date in 2018, by staff according to civil service grade, communications personnel and other staff; the funding allocated to the unit in 2017 and expended; and the budget allocation in 2018 broken down between salary and non salary allocations in tabular form. [11014/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

124. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach if a panel has been established in his Department for communications officers; if a Civil Service position of head of communications or similar role or description has been appointed in his Department; if so, when the appointment occurred; the grade at which it occurred; the reason for same; the policy the appointment was based on; the person that approved the appointment; and if he plans to make such an appointment. [11985/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

130. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach if he has satisfied himself that all Public Appointments Service and TLAC procedures were adhered to in the appointment of a person (details supplied) to the strategic communications unit; the duration of their contract; and if there is an optional extension of the contract. [11991/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

132. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach the way in which Civil Service staff were redeployed into the strategic communications unit in his Department; the organisational structure of that section; the grades of staff; the number of non-Civil Service staff in the unit; and the reporting structure for those staff. [11993/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

133. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Taoiseach the staff complement within the strategic communications unit; the grades and roles and roles of each; the staff that are existing civil servants; the number that have been brought in from outside the Civil Service; and the salary costs of same. [12005/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 80, 124, 130, 132 and 133 together.

The Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) was established in my Department in September 2017 and the work of the Unit is currently under review.

There are currently fifteen staff in the Unit and all work on a full-time basis. The Director of the Unit was seconded to my Department from Fáilte Ireland and remains an employee of Fáilte Ireland. He was previously seconded to the (then) Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as Director of Ireland 2016.

No other Head of Communications position has been established by my Department.

On establishment of the Unit, staff in the Government Information Service (GIS) and some staff working on communications projects in my Department were redeployed to work in the SCU. The salary scale, employment status and provenance of all staff working in the SCU is detailed in the following table:

Position (relevant salary scale)

Employment Status

Provenance

Director (Assistant Secretary)

Public Servant

Seconded to the Department of the Taoiseach from Fáilte Ireland

Principal Officer

Civil Servant

Seconded to the Department of the Taoiseach from the National Shared Services Office

Assistant Principal Officer

Civil Servant

Redeployed to the SCU from the GIS

Assistant Principal Officer

Civil Servant

Redeployed to the SCU from another communications role in the Department of the Taoiseach

Assistant Principal Officer

Civil Servant

Redeployed to the SCU from another communications role in the Department of the Taoiseach

Assistant Principal Officer

Civil Servant

Seconded to the Department of the Taoiseach from the Department of Health

Higher Executive Officer

Civil Servant

Redeployed to the SCU from the Citizens’ Assembly

Higher Executive Officer equivalent

Public Servant

Seconded to the Department of the Taoiseach from Fáilte Ireland

Administrative Officer

Civil Servant

Redeployed to the SCU from the GIS

Administrative Officer

Civil Servant

Seconded to the Department of the Taoiseach from the Department of Health

Administrative Officer

Civil Servant

Seconded to the Department of the Taoiseach from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Media and Communications Assistant (Executive Officer)

Civil Servant

Redeployed to the SCU from the GIS

Media and Communications Assistant (Executive Officer)

Civil Servant

Redeployed to the SCU from the GIS

Media and Communications Assistant (Executive Officer)

Civil Servant

Redeployed to the SCU from the GIS

Executive Officer

Civil Servant

Redeployed to the SCU from another communications role in the Department of the Taoiseach

All staff working in the SCU - with the exception of the two staff members seconded from Fáilte Ireland and existing Department of the Taoiseach staff redeployed to work in the Unit - responded to a cross-civil and public service request for expressions of interest and interviewed for their roles. Arising from this process, four applicants were also placed on panels to fill any vacancies that may arise in the Unit in the future.

The standard civil service reporting structure applies within the Unit and the Director of the Unit reports to the Secretary General of my Department.

Because the SCU was established in Q3 2017, provision was not made for it in my Department's 2017 Estimates. Approximately €50,000 was expended by the SCU from September to December 2017 and was met from my Department’s administrative budget.

In Budget 2018, provision was made in my Department’s 2018 Estimates for a non-pay budget of €5m to be made available to the SCU.

Salary budgets are not delegated to individual Divisions / Business Units in my Department. All salary costs for the SCU are met from my Department's administrative budget.