I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 and 256 together.
There were 719.35 full time equivalent staff in my Department at the end of December 2018, of which 223.28 FTE were professional/technical grades and 496.07 FTE were general administrative grades. The vast majority of staff in the professional and technical stream would require professional qualifications relevant to their specific job for example, planners, engineers, architects, accountants. However a large proportion of staff in general administrative grades also hold qualifications in a wide range of areas such as law, economics, business, HR and finance. My Department does not hold a central register of the professional institute memberships of individual staff members.
My Department is committed to providing opportunities for staff for continuing career and professional development, through both general and targeted training programmes. In that context, and in addition to the internal policy and procedures documents in place to support the range of staff who may, from time to time, be involved in procurement of goods/services, my Department supports staff to undertake training and education to support delivery of those functions. My Department also engages on an ongoing basis with the Office of Government Procurement to utilise frameworks that are in place or to seek advice in respect of specific procurement matters. In addition, given the extent to which the procurement of goods and services funded by my Department is undertaken through the local government sector, a comprehensive shared service arrangement, at both the strategic and operational levels, has been in place in the sector for a number of years in order to support the professional delivery of procurement services.