Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (197)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

197. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the strategic review of the Phoenix Park undertaken by the Office of Public Works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35709/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works is engaged in an ongoing analysis and review of the submissions received in respect of the Draft Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review. A report on the findings of these submissions is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

Garda Stations

Ceisteanna (198)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

198. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Office of Public Works, OPW, plans to sell the unused Garda station in Glenfarne, County Leitrim; if so, when it will be sold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35747/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As part of the Programme for a Partnership Government, the Office of Public Works (OPW) was requested not to dispose of any further closed Garda stations pending the outcome of two reviews of closed Garda stations. 

The first review identified six closed Garda stations for reopening and the second review, published on the 21st December 2018, did not identify any further closed Garda stations for reopening.

The Commissioners of Public Works are proceeding to review the remaining closed Garda stations in State ownership in line with the OPW’s policy on surplus vacant property, including the former Garda station at Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim.

The OPW policy with regard to non-operational (vacant) State property is to:

- Identify if the property is required/suitable for alternative State use by either Government Departments or the wider public sector.

- If there is no other State use identified for a property, the OPW will then consider disposing of the property on the open market if and when conditions prevail, in order to generate revenue for the Exchequer.

- If no State requirement is identified or if a decision is taken not to dispose of a particular property, the OPW may consider community involvement (subject to a detailed written submission, which would indicate that the community/voluntary group has the means to insure, maintain and manage the property and that there are no ongoing costs for the Exchequer).

The future use of the former Garda Station at Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim is currently being examined in line with the above policy.

Flooding Data

Ceisteanna (199)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

199. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 224 of 12 February 2019, when the second more detailed report in respect of flooding in an area (details supplied) in County Kerry will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35774/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Kerry County Council carried out a pre-feasibility study for the Sneem area, the recommendation of which was to carry out further more detailed river modelling to assess the feasibility of the measures identified in the pre-feasibility study. Working in co-operation with Kerry County Council, the Office of Public Works (OPW) agreed to undertake this study and assessment, which was due to be completed in the summer of 2019.

The study and assessment of the measures identified in the pre-feasibility study is ongoing and is almost at completion stage.  When completed the feasibility report will be reviewed by the O.P.W. in advance of issuing to Kerry County Council. 

Should a suitable scheme be identified, it will be open to Kerry County Council to apply for funding under the OPW-operated Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme subject to the scheme’s criteria being satisfied, including a requirement that the proposed measures are cost beneficial. Full details are available on the OPW’s website: www.opw.ie

Garda Stations

Ceisteanna (200)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

200. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding a closed Garda station (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35776/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is primarily responsible for the property allocated to An Garda Síochána. I understand the Minister for Justice and Equality will write to the Garda Commissioner asking for information on the matter raised by the Deputy and will write directly to the Deputy on receipt of same.

National Parks and Wildlife Service

Ceisteanna (201)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

201. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 112 of 3 April 2019, if permission will be sought from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to remove the silt build-up outside the sluice gates at a location (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35777/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works is responsible for the maintenance of Arterial Drainage Schemes and catchment drainage schemes designated under the Arterial Drainage Acts of 1945 and 1995.

The sluice gate in question, a double sluice, is part of the River Maine Catchment Drainage Scheme. The sluice was inspected on 29 August 2019 by OPW staff.  The inspection corresponded with low tide, at which time the sluice structure was operating effectively, with free flow clearly evident through the sluice. 

As part of the 2019 Maintenance Works programme, maintenance work which is scheduled in the area in the coming weeks, will improve conveyance and efficiency of flow to the sluice.   

Vacant Sites Levy

Ceisteanna (202)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

202. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount paid per unit (details supplied) in vacant site levies since the levy was introduced by year and amount per vacant unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35823/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Commissioners of Public Works have advised me that the Office of Public Works (OPW) has not been liable for any levies since the introduction of the vacant site levy system a number of years ago. Most recently, Kilkenny County Council has placed the former Garda station at Barrack Street, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny on their vacant sites register.  A levy of €4,500 will be payable in 2019 on this property. This property however is currently in the process of being transferred to Kilkenny County Council for its own use under the agreed protocols for transfer of State property.  This is the only site currently notified to the Commissioners as liable for the vacant site levy. 

Two sites (which are in effect one site) identified by Dublin City Council at St. John’s Road/Military Road, were placed on the Council’s 2017 vacant sites register. The site is the location for the proposed new Garda Security and Crime Operations Centre and the notice was successfully appealed to An Bord Pleanála as being not appropriate to the vacant site register and no longer appears on that register.

The OPW actively manages a portfolio of some 2,500 properties throughout the country.  At any given time it is normal that a number of properties are vacant.  In the case of the OPW portfolio, the majority of properties vacant are former Garda stations closed under the 2012/13 closure programme.  As these stations were subject to examination under the recent policing review, OPW was specifically requested not to dispose of them.  As this review has now completed, the future of the remaining stations will now be determined.  Of the original 139 stations closed only 51 remain within the portfolio.  

When a property is deemed suitable for disposal, the OPW will, in the first instance, offer it for use to other public bodies (e.g. local authorities, LDA, HSE etc.) prior to it being placed on the open market.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (203)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

203. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the Glanmire flood relief works will commence. [35860/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works, through the Arterial Drainage Acts, has submitted the proposal for the Glashaboy Flood Relief Scheme to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for formal Confirmation.  The Minister will, over the coming months, undertake an environmental assessment of the proposed scheme.  This assessment will be in line with required legislative requirements and will involve a public consultation.   The appointment of a Contractor will be progressed for this scheme following formal Ministerial Confirmation.

 The flood relief scheme will be funded from within the allocated €1 billion for flood risk management over the period 2018-2027.

State Properties

Ceisteanna (204)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

204. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position in relation to the vacant properties at a location (details supplied) in County Cork; the plans of the OPW for the properties; if the OPW has plans to carry out essential maintenance works at the location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35971/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The OPW actively manages a portfolio of some 2,500 properties throughout the country, that ranges from office accommodation to heritage properties, visitors centres, Garda stations, among others.  At any given time it is normal that a number of properties are vacant.  In the case of the OPW portfolio, there are 98 properties currently vacant, reduced from over 200 that were vacant in 2014. 

The majority of these are former Garda stations closed under the 2012/13 closure programme.  As these stations were subject to examination under the recent policing review, the OPW was specifically requested not to dispose of them.  Now that this review is completed, the future of the remaining 51 stations will be determined.  

When a property is deemed suitable for disposal, the OPW will, in the first instance, offer it for use to other public bodies (e.g. local authorities, LDA, HSE etc.) prior to it being placed on the open market. 

Of the 98 properties currently vacant, there are nine former coastguard cottages in Crosshaven, Co. Cork in State ownership, seven of which have been identified as surplus to requirement and suitable for disposal.

In addition to the cottages, there is a one acre site to the rear of the cottages. This site was the subject of a Licence Agreement, which expired in October 2017 but remains occupied by the licensee and is subject to legal proceedings. This site is also surplus to State requirements and suitable for disposal when the legal issues have been resolved.

The cottages and site were considered for use by Cork County Council but the Council, following due consideration, decided not to proceed with acquiring the properties and site.  As there is no alternative State use for the cottages and site the OPW has prepared contracts for sale and plan to dispose of them following resolution of the outstanding legal issue.  

The OPW recently carried out repairs to the roof of one of the properties.

Coastal Protection

Ceisteanna (205)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

205. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans in relation to future coastal works required at Mornigton, Bettystown and Laytown; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35983/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I am advised that, in the first instance, the management of problems of coastal protection in the areas indicated are a matter for Meath County Council. They may carry out coastal protection works using their own resources, but where necessary, they may also put forward proposals to the relevant central Government Departments, including the OPW, for funding of appropriate measures depending on the infrastructure or assets under threat.

It is also open to Meath County Council to apply for funding under the Office of Public Works’ (OPW) Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme, under which applications for funding from Local Authorities are considered for measures costing not more than €750,000 in each instance.  Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for projects that meet the eligibility criteria, including a requirement that the proposed measures are cost beneficial. Full details are available on the OPW’s website: www.opw.ie

In 2018, Meath County Council completed coastal protection works in Laytown, approximately 350 meters north of the Nanny Estuary at a cost of €483,500 which included €126,000 funding from the OPW.  These works were in response to damage done to existing coastal defences in 2013/2014.

 There is an existing Flood Relief Scheme in place providing protection to 162 properties in Mornington. The Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Programme identified potentially viable flood relief works for Mornington that may be implemented after project level assessment and planning that would augment the existing scheme and would provide protection to an additional 52 properties. The OPW and Meath County Council are in discussions about how best to proceed in progressing this scheme.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (206)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

206. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the expected cost overrun in the health budget for 2019; his plans to address the cost overrun in Budget 2020 or via Supplementary Estimates by year end; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36031/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Managing the delivery of public services within budgetary allocations is a key responsibility of every Department and Minister and this includes the Department of Health. The Minister of Health has indicated that there are cost pressures emerging this year but it is too early to predict the extent of any cost overrun that may emerge on the Health budget.

I and my Department are in regular contact at Ministerial and official level to ensure that expenditure is being managed in line with the overall fiscal parameters and to ensure that cost pressures are appropriately addressed.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (207)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

207. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the cost overruns in respect of the senior care centres programme; if he has met with his counterpart in the Department of Health to discuss the matter; his plans to ensure senior care centres will not be closed due to budgetary issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36032/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The HSE Capital Plan, published recently, provides for €220m capital funding to the CNU programme over the period 2019 to 2021 and also sets out the current status of all projects within the programme. Managing the delivery of this programme within budgetary allocations is the responsibility of the Department and Minister for Health. 

This Department is in regular contact with all other Departments and Offices to ensure that expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters

Telecommunications Infrastructure

Ceisteanna (208)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

208. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the annual amount of income derived from all third-party installations of telecommunications equipment on masts at Garda stations or former Garda stations in the past three years to date by station and/or mast location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36070/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland  (CPW) have issued licences to install telecommunications equipment on masts at Garda Stations and Office of Public Works (OPW) owned buildings (including rooftops of Government Departments) to the following companies, all of which are licensed by ComReg to provide services in Ireland.

- Three Ireland (Hutchison) Limited

- Three Ireland Services (Hutchison) Limited 

- Vodafone Ireland Limited

- Meteor Mobile Communications Limited

- Lighthouse Networks Limited 

- Tetra Ireland Ltd - These licences are for the provision of digital radio services to An Garda Síochána and other emergency services and as a result of this a licence fee is not payable.

Officials in my Department are currently collating the information on the income, by station, received in the past three years from these licences and I will forward the information to the Deputy as soon as it is available. 

Office of Public Works Data

Ceisteanna (209)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

209. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the rent paid by the Office of Public Works, OPW, to a company (details supplied) for the rental of a location since the lease began or since it was acquired by the company, by year and average annual and monthly rent. [36086/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The OPW has paid rent to Green Reit in respect of a property at 85-93 Mount Street since 2013. The annual rents paid from 2013 to date are summarised in the below table. The annual rent is €1,743,000 and it is payable on a quarterly basis. It should be noted that the first payment on this property was for the final quarter of 2013 but the payment was not processed until 2014 which means there were 5 payments in that year. 

Year

Total Rent paid

2019 (to date)

€1,307, 250

2018

€1,743, 000

2017

€1,743, 000

2016

€1,743, 000

2015

€1,743, 000

2014

€2,178, 750

Office of Public Works Data

Ceisteanna (210)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

210. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the rent paid by the Office of Public Works, OPW, to a company (details supplied) for the rental of a location since the lease began or since it was acquired by the company, by year and average annual and monthly rent. [36087/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The rent paid by O.P.W. to a company (details supplied) for the rental of a location since it was acquired by the company in 2014 is as follows:

Year

Amount

2014

€   505,000

2015

€1,010,000

2016

€1,010,000

2017

€1,010,000

2018

€1,010,000

2019

€    505,000

The annual rent is €1,010,000 and is paid on a quarterly basis.

Departmental Internships

Ceisteanna (211)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

211. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of unpaid internships issued or granted to persons to work in his Department over the past five years to 28 August 2019; the number of persons that took up unpaid internship roles in that timeframe; if his Department continues to offer unpaid internships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36153/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I wish to inform the Deputy that no unpaid internships have been issued or granted to persons to work in my Department from 28 August 2014 to date.

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (212)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

212. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the evaluation of submissions to the public consultation on the Phoenix Park visitor experience strategic review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36199/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works is engaged in an ongoing analysis and review of the submissions received in respect of the Draft Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review.  A report on the findings of these submissions is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

Cyber Security Data

Ceisteanna (213)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

213. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there are dedicated, professionally trained and certified cybersecurity staff in relation to cybersecurity protocols under the remit of his Department; if such specialists are being recruited; if his Department maintains a risk register of security breaches; if so, if there are staff that analyse, log and maintain such a register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36233/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

My Department has specialist resources, with the appropriate skills and expertise, tasked with managing cyber security.   My Department implements a defence-in-depth security strategy which is achieved through the effective combination of People, Processes, and Technology to support the implementation of appropriate security measures and provisions, including monitoring and analysing logs.

Departmental Operations

Ceisteanna (214)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

214. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department has a disaster recovery plan, business continuity plan and/or disaster recovery sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36249/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

My Department builds resilience into its ICT solutions as a matter of course and has disaster recovery plans and sites.  Disaster recovery forms part of the overarching Business Continuity framework for my Department.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (215)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

215. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when funding will be provided under the flood relief schemes to strengthen the banks of the River Shannon in the Corbally area of Limerick city to protect residents in the Mill Road and the Corbally Road from flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36270/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) programme was launched on the 3rd May, 2018 wherein 29 Flood Risk Management Plans were unveiled.  These Plans proposed 118 new outline flood relief projects on top of the 42 major projects already completed and the 33 major schemes within the existing capital works programme of the Office of Public Works (OPW).  They included a recommendation to progress the project-level development and planning of a Flood Relief Scheme for Limerick City & Environs, which includes the Corbally area. 

There is a project steering group in place for the Limerick City and Environs Flood Relief Scheme, comprising of OPW personnel and representatives from Limerick City and County Council.  This group is currently progressing the preparation of a Project Brief for the procurement of Engineering and Environmental Consultants. It is scheduled to go to the Office of Public Works’ Engineering and Environmental Consultants framework in Q4 of 2019.

Once consultants are appointed to progress this Flood Relief Scheme, consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies, as well as the public, will take place at the appropriate stages to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to input into the development of these schemes.  The preferred option identified under the CFRAM programme for Limerick City and Environs (including King’s Island) has a preliminary project cost estimate of €56m.  Full information on the proposed scheme can be found at floodinfo.ie.

Departmental Data

Question No. 217 answered with Question No. 178.

Ceisteanna (216)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

216. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the basis of assuming a significant fall in the projected demographic costs associated with social projection arising from the change in pension age, further to the paper Budgetary Impact of Changing Demographics 2017-2027; the extent to which increases in jobseeker payments from persons in their mid-sixties have been factored into this calculation; and if a revised paper will be provided with projected jobseeker increases included in the final costing. [36396/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The purpose of the paper is to examine expected changes in the age structure of the Irish population and how these specific changes impact areas of public expenditure in the short, medium and long term. The demographic projections in the paper are based on the assumption that the only variables changing over the period are the size and age distribution of the population. Pension projections take account of legislation which increases the eligible age to 67 from 2021 onwards.

These estimates focus exclusively on the cost of demographic pressures across Health, Social Protection and Education. These annual demographic estimates inform budgetary allocations along with a variety of other factors which influence overall allocations.

Going forward, IGEES intends to build on the 2016 work and an update of the paper is due to be published as part of the 2019 Spending Review. This update will again examine the cost of demographic pressures over a ten year period, 2020 to 2030, focusing on Health, Social Protection and Education, as these are three primary areas of current expenditure which are particularly impacted by demographic changes.

Question No. 217 answered with Question No. 178.

Public Sector Staff

Ceisteanna (218)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

218. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on introducing a public accountability act providing for individual public servants to be held accountable for their actions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36440/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Public Service Management Act 1997 sets out in law the duties for which civil  servants are responsible and accountable in their Departments and Offices. The Act empowers Ministers to assign specific responsibilities to Secretary Generals and Heads of Offices. These responsibilities include: advising the relevant Minister; implementing government policy; monitoring these policies and delivering on agreed outputs with the relevant Minister; developing statements of strategy; managing risk; discharging their statutory role as Accounting Officer for their Vote; and managing the performance of staff at all levels. Individual civil and public servants are held accountable to their management under the performance management system and civil servants  are also subject to the Civil Service Code of Conduct.

I would refer the deputy also to the Consultation Paper on ‘Strengthening Civil Service Accountability and Performance’ which was published by the Department for Public Expenditure and Reform in January 2014.  This stemmed from the commitments in the Programme for Government to strengthen accountability obligations that applied to all senior civil service personnel.  An extensive public consultation process was managed by an Independent Panel which recommended establishing an Accountability Board for the Civil Service with external oversight.  This Board would review and challenge senior management performance as well as monitoring progress in the delivery of strategic priorities.  

The Panel also recommended

- designing a performance management system for Secretaries General

- the publication of ‘who does what and to whom they are answerable’ at the level of Assistant Secretary and Principal Officer and

- the reintroduction of Organisational Capability Reviews to provide an objective assessment of the capacity and capability of Departments.

The Civil Service Renewal Plan, launched in September 2014, committed to a significant programme of reform across the Civil Service.  Equally, successive Public Service Reform plans have been introduced and are being implemented across the public service to build capability and to deliver high performance.   The Civil Service renewal plan included 25 headline actions, the first of which was to establish a Civil Service Accountability Board to strengthen accountability and performance across the Civil Service by introducing greater oversight of delivery.  The Civil Service Accountability Board is chaired by the Taoiseach and has met four times to date.  The Board’s terms of reference are: 

- to have an overall governance role across the Civil Service and

- to advise on and support the development of the Civil Service's capabilities

- to review proposals for a new performance management system for Secretaries General

- to implement this performance management system across the Civil Service

- to review the new programme of Organisational Capability Reviews. This includes implementing recommendations arising out of these reviews

- to oversee the Civil Service's capability to implement priorities, or other system-wide issues, set by Government . This may involve considering individual case studies to promote the learning of best practices

Other actions included in the Civil Service Renewal Plan in response to the Independent Panel’s recommendations are

- the design and implementation of a robust performance review process for Secretaries General and Assistant Secretaries (delivered);

- the publication of an assignment framework that describes who does what and to whom they are answerable for senior managers www.whodoeswhat.gov.ie  (delivered)

- the implementation of a programme of Organisational Capability Reviews (in progress).

All of these measures are designed to ensure that there are robust systems in place to ensure that civil and public servants deliver high performance and are held accountable for their actions. 

At present there are no plans in place for changes in legislation in this regard.

National Lottery Regulator

Ceisteanna (219)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

219. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of investigations and successful prosecutions by the lottery regulator regarding instances of underage gambling and/or the selling of lottery games and/or products since 1 January 2019 to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36456/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Regulator of the National Lottery has confirmed that under section 42 of the National Lottery Act 2013, it is a criminal offence to sell or offer for sale a National Lottery ticket to a minor. However, the Regulator does not have the mandate to initiate criminal investigations or to prosecute criminal offences. 

The remit of the Regulator with regard to potential sales to minors is to monitor and enforce the obligations on the Operator of the National Lottery contained in the Act and the Licence. 

In 2018 the Regulator conducted a mystery shopping exercise to assess retailer compliance with measures in the Sales Code of Practice designed to prevent sales to minors (such as the requirement to ask anyone who is not clearly 18 years or over for ID).

The Operator is required by the Licence to use its “best endeavours” to secure retailer compliance with the Code. Since the findings of this exercise were published, in January 2019, the Regulator has been engaging with the Operator and monitoring their endeavours to swiftly and substantially ameliorate retailer compliance with the provisions of the Code relating to underage purchases.

Public Spending Code

Ceisteanna (220)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

220. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the issuing of a cost effectiveness analysis guidance document; when the document will be issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36474/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As part of the ongoing reform of Ireland’s capital management systems, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is updating the Public Spending Code.  The purpose of this update is to strengthen the existing guidance to better align with the realities of project delivery and with a particular focus on improved appraisal, cost estimation and management.  The Office of Government Procurement is conducting a review of construction procurement which will align with the updated Public Spending Code.

The updated Public Spending Code will include the following reforms:

- Strengthened and harmonised capital appraisal guidance;

- Greater clarity on governance  and roles and responsibilities; 

- New mechanisms to improve the accuracy of cost estimates;

- Improved project life cycle to better reflect the realities of project delivery; and

- Increased transparency through publication of business cases and evaluation reports. 

The Public Spending Code requirements will still include the need for a financial analysis to assess affordability and an economic appraisal to assess the economic and social value of the project for public investment projects.  The Public Spending Code recommends the use of cost benefit analysis or CBA as the economic appraisal methodology for major projects but where CBA is less useful, in sectors such as housing or culture, cost effectiveness analysis or multi-criteria analysis may be more appropriate.

 The Public Spending Code requires Departments to draw up their own sector-specific appraisal guidance as appropriate.  These are developed by the Department with lead responsibility for the sector and set out additional requirements and parameters specific to the sector, while remaining in the line with the Public Spending Code. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform engages with Departments to ensure that the sector-specific guidance complies with principles and guidance set out in the Public Spending Code.

The revised central elements of the Public Spending Code relating to the appraisal and management of public capital projects will be published this autumn.  Further technical guidance building upon these central elements will follow later in 2019 and in 2020.  

Public Procurement Regulations

Ceisteanna (221)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

221. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to review the changes made to the public procurement process in view of the fact that they have been in place for a number of years; if the changes that have resulted in large contractors winning tenders for services and in turn sub-contracting out much of the work to sub-contractors will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36479/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Government recognises the importance of the SME sector and continues to enhance the already substantial measures to support SMEs in accessing the public procurement market. Significant work has been undertaken by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) to ensure that public procurement is accessible by all businesses, including SMEs. My colleague, Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan, in accordance with the Programme for Government, chairs quarterly meetings of the SME Advisory Group so that the voice of industry is heard at first hand by Government.

The OGP have developed a suite of measures aimed at assisting SMEs to access public procurement opportunities (circular 10/14). These include:

- employing proportionate turnover requirements with turnover limited to twice the contract value,

- the division of public contracts into lots,

- the provision for “consortia bidding” to assist SMEs to participate in procurement procedures where they would not have the relevant capability or scale, and

- requiring public bodies to advertise contracts for goods and services valued above €25,000 (ex. VAT) on the national eTenders portal

Other measures include undertaking market analysis prior to tendering to understand the competitive landscape and encouraging businesses to register on eTenders, the Government’s national tendering platform. Specific supports are also provided by InterTrade Ireland (ITI) and Enterprise Ireland (EI) to assist SMEs in preparing for public tenders.

There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to “Refine the new procurement structures in place, such as the OGP, as they bed down and make adjustments according to best international practice and in conjunction with Irish businesses”.  This review of the Procurement Reform Programme is currently underway and the views of SMEs have been sought from industry representatives which sit on the SME Advisory Group including IBEC, ISME, Small Firms Association (SFA), Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and Chambers Ireland. Their contributions, as well as those received from Government Departments (including bodies under their aegis) are now being considered. The views of the Health, Education, Local Government and Defence Sectors and opposition spokespeople on public procurement have also been sought in this process. The feedback from this engagement will inform the future direction and shape of public procurement.