In accordance with constitutional and statutory provisions, the Department of Defence has civil and military branches and, with the serving Minister as head, ensures civil control of the armed forces of the State.
The Secretary General heads the civil element of my Department while the Chief of Staff heads the military element, known as Defence Forces Headquarters (DFHQ), which has an establishment of 327 military personnel. As such, the Secretary General is my principal policy adviser and the Chief of Staff is my principal military adviser. Both elements of the Department provide supports to me, as Minister, in the management of defence and have decision making authority. In this regard, as provided for in the Defence Acts 1954-2011, the Chief of Staff, as head of DFHQ, has a wide range of responsibilities which include the military effectiveness, efficiency, organisation, and economy of the Defence Forces. As provided for in the Acts, the Chief of Staff has, in turn, delegated responsibility for certain duties to the Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) and to the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support).
While the Secretary General is the Accounting Officer, it is nevertheless the case that there is a considerable degree of delegation of financial control and responsibility to the Chief of Staff. A significant portion of the Defence budget, in fact comprising the bulk of the non-pay element, is now delegated to the Chief of Staff to facilitate the exercise of his functions, particularly in the area of the procurement of goods and services. Furthermore, where significant levels of expenditure are proposed, a jointly chaired civil-military High-Level Planning and Procurement Group is the sanctioning authority in accordance with the Public Spending Code and meets on an almost monthly basis to progress equipment procurement and infrastructural development priorities.
In relation to Budget 2021, the position is that Estimates discussions are ongoing between my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the final funding allocations to both the Defence and Army Pensions Votes will be published on Budget Day, next Tuesday October 13th.