Public Procurement Regulations

Ceisteanna (126)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

126. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the requirements set down by the Office of Government Procurement or other bodies for contracting parties to publish details on an annual basis or at other intervals of its activities in respect of public procurement using Article 20 of the 2014 EU public procurement directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52014/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Under the EU Procurement Directives, contracting authorities may decide to reserve the right to tender for any contract to a sheltered workshop which is now defined as one in which at least 30 per cent of the employees are either disabled or disadvantaged. Contracting authorities may also reserve certain contracts for health, social and cultural services to organisations such as not-for-profit organisations which meet certain conditions, namely the pursuit of a public service mission linked to the delivery of the relevant services and reinvestment of profits in the organisation.

The Procurement Directives also set out the reporting obligations applicable to any above threshold procurements that lie within the scope of the EU Directive on public procurement.

It is a matter for individual contracting authorities to ensure that their public procurement activities are discharged in line with procurement rules and procedures which includes reporting. The OGP supports contracting authorities in this regard by making them aware of their legal and policy obligations in respect to public procurement.

The OGP has been promoting the inclusion of social considerations, including reserved contracts and sheltered workshops. Last October, the OGP published Circular 20/2019: Promoting the use of Environmental and Social Considerations in Public Procurement. The circular was the latest development following publication of an Information Note on Incorporating Social Considerations into Public Procurement last December and the establishment of the cross Departmental Social Considerations Advisory Group in March this year. These developments promote and facilitate the inclusion of social considerations in a structured manner and are aimed at helping policy makers and procurement practitioners understand how procurement can be used to support advancement of existing social policy objectives, the wider context and the implications of including them in procurement projects.

Public Procurement Contracts Social Clauses

Ceisteanna (127)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

127. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the timeframe the social considerations advisory group is working towards for completion of its work on the incorporation of social considerations into public procurement projects; the progress made by the group on social considerations in respect of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52015/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Social Considerations Advisory Group, chaired by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP), meets quarterly and brings together relevant officials from policy Departments with procurement practitioners to facilitate the process of incorporating social and environmental considerations into public procurement. Established in March, this cross-departmental group has met three times in 2019. Members are in the process of identifying pilot projects or appropriate social policy objectives in which social considerations can be advanced through the group.

To further support the incorporation of social considerations into public procurement, my Department published in October, Circular 20/2019: Promoting the use of Environmental and Social Considerations in Public Procurement. The circular highlights the possibilities for Departments to deliver wider social and environmental aims through public procurement including in relation to employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged groups, disability access, promoting social inclusion and social enterprises.

To help policy makers and practitioners understand how procurement can be used to facilitate the advancement of existing social policy objectives as well as the wider context and implications of including them in particular procurement projects, the OGP published an information note on incorporating social considerations into public procurement last December which is available on ogp.gov.ie.

In addition to the work of the Social Considerations Advisory Group, officials from the OGP have also engaged in bilateral meetings with Government Departments to promote the inclusion of social considerations in public procurement.

It is worth nothing that OGP cannot decide for other contracting authorities, or at a whole-of-Government level, what social considerations should be included in the frameworks and contracts that it puts in place on their behalf. The OGP requires guidance from policy departments (and Government approval as appropriate) as well as the agreement of individual contracting authorities who are responsible for managing their own contracts and the associated costs. The appropriateness of including social considerations needs to be examined on a contract-by-contract basis and there needs to be sufficient flexibility to allow each individual contracting authority to decide what, how, and when social considerations can be used. The OGP can help facilitate the process of incorporating those objectives, once agreed, into planned procurement projects.

Derelict Sites Data

Ceisteanna (128)

John Deasy

Ceist:

128. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of vacant or derelict properties by county that are in the ownership of the State and under the management of the Office of Public Works. [52059/19]

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 to 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 89 properties currently vacant.

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 stations will be determined.

A full list of vacant properties by county is shown below. This list only includes vacant properties owned by the Commissioners of Public Works or Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Number of Vacant Properties by County

County

Number of Vacant Properties

Cavan

2

Clare

5

Cork

14

Donegal

6

Dublin

7

Galway

7

Kerry

5

Kilkenny

1

Leitrim

4

Limerick

7

Longford

2

Louth

3

Mayo

5

Meath

2

Monaghan

6

Offaly

1

Roscommon

4

Sligo

2

Tipperary

1

Waterford

2

Wexford

1

Wicklow

2

Total

89

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (129)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

129. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the funding and expenditure not spent by each Department and returned to the Exchequer in 2019. [51923/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As set out in the most recent Fiscal Monitor, at the end of November, total net voted expenditure amounted to €47.95 billion, and was €664 million or 1.4% below profile.

The Revised Estimates for Public Services 2019 set out an overall full year net voted allocation of €53.95 billion across the 42 Votes this year. In addition to this, 13 Substantive Supplementary Estimates and 4 Technical Supplementary Estimates with an aggregate value of €634 million have been presented to Dáil Éireann, and are scheduled to return to the Dáil on the 12th of December, following completion of consideration by the relevant Committees.

As outlined in Expenditure Report 2020, and in line with previous years, it is anticipated that there will be underspends across the system which will partially offset the Supplementary Estimates to be approved by the Dáil. The end-year Exchequer Returns, published in early January, will provide an indication of the scale of such underspends for this year, with the final amount to be surrendered by Vote determined in the Appropriation Accounts.

€396 million of the net voted expenditure underspend versus profile at the end of November, relates to capital expenditure. Under the capital carryover facility Departments may carry over from the current year to the following year unspent capital up to a maximum of 10% of voted capital. The capital to be carried over into 2020 will be set out in this year’s Appropriation Bill.

Garda Stations

Ceisteanna (130)

James Browne

Ceist:

130. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding OPW approval for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52071/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that the former married quarters adjoining the Garda station in Carrick-On-Bannow, Co. Wexford was sold to a private individual in 1991.

The owner is currently selling the property. During this process, a mapping discrepancy was identified between that property (former married quarters) and the Garda station property. This discrepancy needs to be rectified by way of a Deed of Rectification in order for the sale to proceed.

This matter is being progressed by the Office of Public Works, the Chief State Solicitor's Office and solicitors acting for the owner .

Public Sector Staff Remuneration

Ceisteanna (131)

Kate O'Connell

Ceist:

131. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when a person (details supplied) will receive an incremental salary payment owing based on service accrued in the European Civil Service at an analogous grade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52093/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

It is a matter in the first instance for the employing department to apply the provisions of circular 21/2004, Agreement on incremental credit for previous service for entry levels at Clerical Officer, Executive Officer or equivalent grades represented by the Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU) and Public Services Executive Union (PSEU).

My department can provide advice to employing department if the employing department requires guidance on the application of the circular.

Forensic Science Ireland Laboratory

Ceisteanna (132)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

132. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 176 of 15 October 2019, if the contract has been awarded; if so, when the contractors will be on site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52103/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Further to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 176 of 15 October 2019 regarding the Forensic Science Ireland Laboratory Project at the Backweston campus, the delivery of this project is managed by the Office of Public Works. A preferred Main Contractor and Mechanical, Electrical and Clean-Room Contractor have been identified. The Lift Reserved Specialist tender submissions were received and a Letter of Intent has issued on 9 December 2019. Please note that no contract will be awarded until that process is complete and the necessary pre-contract meeting takes place and required assurances are subsequently received. It is expected that this process will be complete this month, December 2019. It is anticipated that construction will start in early Q1 2020 with a view that construction be complete in late 2021/early 2022.

Data Centres

Ceisteanna (133)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

133. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 141 of 12 November 2019, if tenders have now been invited for the project; if so, the closing date for receipt of tenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52107/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Tenders have not been invited for the State Data Centre, Backweston, Co. Kildare. Kildare County Council granted planning permission on 24/10/2019 for the development, with conditions attached. A number of these conditions have been appealed to An Bord Pleanala and as a consequence the tender process has been paused.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (134)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

134. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the expenses incurred by his Department to date in 2019 for the implementation of ongoing communications strategy initiatives that highlight schemes and programmes operated under the auspices of his Department including advertising and promotion on television, radio, newspapers and online in tabular form; and the level of expenditure for each such initiative. [52123/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of my Department and the bodies under its aegis is set out in the table below.

I have been advised that the Office of Public Works will reply to the Deputy directly.

Initiative

Television

Radio

Newspaper

Online

Public Service Reform Programme – Our Public Service 2020 website

€17,165

Public Service Reform Programme – Our Public Service 2020 video case studies

€23,499

Office of Government Procurement

Catering Contract Advert

€1,649

eInvoicing Promotion

€5,706

Bodies under the Aegis:

Public Appointments Service

International Women’s Day Video

€8,000

Administrative Officer Graduate Campaign Video

€5,000

€60,000

Higher Options 2nd Level

€1,414

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (135)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

135. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the expenses incurred by his Department to date in 2019 for the commissioning, development, production, promotion and online sharing of a video that highlighted schemes and programmes operated by his Department in tabular form; if such videos have been commissioned for 2020; and if so, the estimated costs of each such video. [52140/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below.

Scheme or Programme

Overall Cost to Date for Videos Commissioned in 2019

Project Ireland 2040

€14,750

Case studies on innovation and public service development under the auspices of Our Public Service 2020

€23,499

2019 Civil Service Excellence and Innovation Awards

€15,129

Launch of research report on the Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey

€3,044

Launch of the Civil Service Renewal Final Progress Report

€1,968

People Strategy for the Civil Service 2017-2020

€1,273

Office of Government Procurement:

eInvoicing Promotion

€3,000

Any videos to be commissioned in 2020 and the associated costs have yet to be determined.

Office of Public Works Expenditure

Ceisteanna (136)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

136. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the associated costs incurred by his Department and the Office of Public Works in hosting the special Cabinet meeting in Trim, County Meath on 6 December 2019, in tabular form. [52169/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The costs incurred by the Office of Public Works in hosting the special Cabinet meeting in Trim, Co Meath on 6 December 2019 are set out in the table below:-

Expenditure Item

Cost (incl. VAT)

Blackout vinyl for Cabinet Meeting Room

€565.80

Electrical Contractor on standby

€395.00

Total

€960.80

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (137)

Frank O'Rourke

Ceist:

137. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Education and Skills the pension entitlements to the spouse of a retired teacher in cases in which a teacher has retired in advance of a divorce from a first marriage and subsequently enters a second marriage also pre-retirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52024/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Officials from the Pension Unit of my Department contacted your office seeking clarification in relation to your question, from which I understand that the query relates to the spouse of a retired teacher, where the retired teacher divorced and re-married after retirement.

In general the pension entitlements of spouses of retired teachers who retire in advance of a divorce from a first marriage and subsequently enter a second marriage are determined by the pension scheme of which their spouse is a member.

Staff in the Pension Unit of my Department maybe contacted for clarification in regard to the provisions of the original or revised Spouses’ and Children’s Pension Schemes for serving and retired teachers on my Department's payroll, which are contained in S.I. No 434 of 2009, Primary School Teachers Pension Scheme 2009, and S.I. No 435 of 2009, Secondary, Community, and Comprehensive School Teachers Pension Scheme 2009.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (138)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

138. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in DEIS band 1 schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51899/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The DEIS programme allows for a reduced class size in Urban Band 1 primary schools with the application of a preferential staffing schedule to these schools of 20:1 at junior classes and 24:1 at senior classes to support those students at the highest risk of educational disadvantage.

As the Deputy may be aware, DEIS Plan acknowledges the allocation of teaching resources to DEIS primary schools with the highest concentrations of children at risk of educational disadvantage has served to improve learning outcomes. It also commits to the evaluation of the level of teaching resources for schools participating in DEIS to be undertaken to inform future policy in this area. 

In order to facilitate this a Class Size Working Group was established comprising representatives from the Education Partners, the Educational Research Centre and the relevant Business Units in my Department. This group has met on a number of occasions to consider class size in the context of improved learning outcomes of those most at risk of educational disadvantage.

A report on the work of this group is currently being finalised, and will take into consideration the feedback and observations of the working group members. It is intended that this will be finalised in the coming weeks and its findings will inform future policy direction in this area.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (139)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

139. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the restrictions experienced by Irish citizens who do not meet the residency time limits criteria with regard to the lower tier of third level registration and tuition fees; his plans to reform the regulation in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51984/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to qualify for funding towards tuition fees, students must be first-time undergraduates, hold inter alia EU/EEA/Swiss nationality or certain permissions given by the Minister for Justice and Equality in their own right, and have been ordinarily resident in an EU/EEA/Swiss state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third level course.

Where students do not qualify for free fees funding they must pay the appropriate fee - either EU or Non-EU, as determined by each higher education institution. These institutions are autonomous bodies and the level of fee payable by students who do not meet the requirements of the free fees scheme is a matter for the relevant institution to determine.

My Department responded previously in relation to the impact of the Free Fees Initiative eligibility criteria on Irish nationals who had, for occupational or economic reasons, to move abroad, requiring them to take their children out of the Irish education system in the process.

To this end, in March 2014 my Department requested the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to advise the higher education sector that full-time undergraduate students who:

- Hold EU/EEA/Swiss nationality but do not meet the residency clause of the Free Fees Initiative; and

- have completed five academic years of study (at either primary or post-primary level) in an EU/EEA/Swiss State; and

- commence their first undergraduate course of study in an approved institution here from the following academic year onwards,

should be charged the EU rate of fee rather than the higher non-EU rate by their higher education institution.

MY Department has commenced a review under the EU Commission's Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP) to look at increased sustainability in higher and further education, including an economic assessment of the funding options outlined in the Cassell's report. Pending the completion of this review my Department is not planning to amend the qualifying criteria of the Free Fees Initiative.

Higher Education Institutions Staff

Ceisteanna (140)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

140. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the staff to student ratio in publicly-funded higher education institutions here; the corresponding ratios from 2009 to 2014; the comparator figures from benchmark EU countries such as Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52012/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The information requested by the Deputy is provided in the attached table. Data for Ireland is available from 2011 onwards. The latest internationally comparative data available relates to the period 2013 - 2017. Relevant data is sourced from Higher Education Authority and OECD sources as appropriate.

Staff to Student ratio