I propose to take Questions Nos. 99 to 101, inclusive, together.
Due to the nature of its role, my Department has had no major capital projects over €100 million funded through its own Vote in the past five years, nor is it expected to have any such projects in the next five years.
As part of the ongoing reform of Ireland’s public investment management systems, my Department 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 revised central elements of the Public Spending Code relating to the appraisal and management of public capital projects will be published before the end of the year. Further technical guidance building upon these central elements will follow in 2020.
The update of the Public Spending Code highlighted the need for more structured scrutiny of major public investment projects focusing on the robustness of planned delivery, accuracy of cost forecasts, and consideration of risk. My Department is developing a new governance and assurance process for major projects with an estimated cost of over €100 million. This new process is being informed by international best practice and will involve consultation with all major public sector stakeholders. It is likely to involve an independent external review of major projects at key stages. Options are being explored as to how to operate this approach. It may involve external reviews conducted by a panel of experts in infrastructure delivery and may draw on international expertise where relevant. The delivery of such reviews could be done in parallel with other elements of the development of public investment proposed interventions so as not to cause undue delay to those projects which will proceed. The detail of the process and arrangements for implementation will be scoped and developed with a target operational date of mid-2020.