Dáil debates

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Civil Service

11:30 am

Photo of James O'ConnorJames O'Connor (Cork East, Fianna Fail)
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117. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the criteria which are applied for promotion relating to interdepartmental staff in the civil service; if any concerns have been identified for interdepartmental staff promotions within the civil service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2275/23]

Photo of James O'ConnorJames O'Connor (Cork East, Fianna Fail)
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I want to raise the issue of interdepartmental staff promotions within the Civil Service. Have concerns been raised before, perhaps by trade unions or staff themselves, with the Minister's Department around the lack of interdepartmental staff that are given promotional opportunities? It is an issue that has been raised with me by a number of constituents who are concerned about it. Perhaps it is something that could be looked at by the Department.

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 provides the regulatory framework for recruitment and selection that all civil and public service employers are required to adhere to. It provided for the establishment of the Commission for Public Service Appointments, CPSA, as the independent regulator for appointments made under the Act; the Public Appointments Service, PAS, as the centralised recruitment, assessment and selection body for the Civil Service; and for other public service bodies, where requested. In line with its statutory remit, the CPSA has published codes of practice on its website to ensure that standards of probity, merit, equity and fairness apply to recruitment selection processes undertaken by employers for appointments to the civil and public service made under the Act.

In relation to the specific issue of promotional opportunities for existing civil servants, they may be eligible to compete in internal competitions, which are confined to their own Civil Service Department or office, as well as interdepartmental competitions, which are open to existing eligible civil servants across all Departments and offices. There are a number of general criteria that apply to interdepartmental competitions for promotion in the Civil Service in relation to grading, number of years' service, the rating of the employee and suitability in terms of work performance and general conduct. No concerns around interdepartmental staff promotions within the Civil Service have been brought to the attention of officials in my Department. More generally, the CPSA accepts complaints from candidates where there are concerns that competitions were not conducted according to the Public Service Management Act 2004 and the relevant CPSA codes of practice. I am not aware of the issue being raised with the CPSA. More generally, the Deputy's concerns have not been raised with my Department at official level. I am sure if the Deputy has specific concerns, he will raise them here with me.

Photo of James O'ConnorJames O'Connor (Cork East, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Minister for the very detailed response. I appreciate and understand that due to the very sensitive nature of the matter, such a response was going to be issued in reply to my question. However, I have to give my own perspective from what I have heard from people who have brought the issue to my attention. Upon looking at the individual cases without naming or going into facet of the Civil Service, I did find it a bit peculiar in relation to the issues that were raised with me. I think it would be a prudent move for the Minister, in his new Department, to take a look at the issue. I believe it has been raised in the past be Deputy Shortall in the Dáil in a parliamentary question. From my perspective, it is about bringing a degree of clarity to the situation. Obviously, people in jobs do not like to make complaints. The Minister and I both know that. It creates a culture that may disadvantage an employee in terms of their relationship with their superiors. That must be said in reply. If the Minister could commit to checking it out, I would deeply appreciate it. I wish him well in his new role.

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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I certainly will check it out. I have seen so many good examples of mobility within the Civil Service in recent years and I know of the positive role that it can play. I would certainly be interested in understanding any limitations or issues regarding its operation. As I said to the Deputy in answering his question, I am not aware of any concerns at the moment, nor have they been raised with me. As ever, if he has any specific matters that he wants to raise after this, I ask him to let me know so that I can follow up on them generally, because this is an important part of how our Civil Service operates and I am very eager to see it continue to function well in the time ahead.