Written answers

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Public Sector Reform Implementation

Photo of Seán KyneSeán Kyne (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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19. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will report on the progress of the Government reform unit of his Department; if he will outline the composition of the unit and its operation, including the number of meetings held and areas of scrutiny; the way the progress of the unit is measured and monitored and if this includes external organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29594/14]

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Minister, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; Wexford, Labour)
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The Government Reform Unit in my Department is responsible for progressing the Government Reform Programme as set out in the Programme for Government, and the Public Service Reform Plan 2014- 2016.  This Unit is headed by a Assistant Secretary General on a 0.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) basis.  It includes three Principal Officers (2.8 FTEs) who manage a staff of 12.2 FTEs who are responsible for legislative measures such as the Freedom of Information legislation, legal framework for the protection of whistle-blowers, providing statutory powers of inquiry to the Houses of the Oireachtas, creating a statutory register of lobbying, data-sharing and governance legislation, and further developing the ethics framework. 

In addition, the Government Reform Unit is responsible for the Statute Law Revision Project which is managed by a Programme Manager and Programme Director (who also provides legal advice for other areas of the Unit's responsibilities) on a contract for services basis.  Work on this Project is also supported by staff on the JobBridge Programme. Throughout all areas of its work, the Unit engages with a large number of stakeholders, internal and external, and has been involved in a number of public consultation processes on different issues.  Therefore, it would be impractical to itemise all of these meetings.

A detailed list of the work items of the Unit is set out in table 1.  This table highlights the individual items of work engaged in by the Unit, the timeframes involved, the progress achieved, as well as consultations undertaken.  The work of the Unit is monitored and assessed through, for example, my own accountability to the Dail by answering Parliamentary Questions on the work of Unit as well as by the ongoing oversight of the delivery of the Department's Business Plan and Statement of Strategy as it relates to Government Reform priorities.  

TABLE 1

Items of WorkProgress AchievedTime Frame InvolvedExternal Consultations
Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013This Act has commenced in full. Enacted 24 July 2013, and

Commenced 25 September 2013
The Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill was the subject of pre-legislative scrutiny by the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform
Consultation Paper on Strengthening Civil Service Accountability and PerformanceThe Consultation Paper has been published.  The Independent Panel on  Strengthening Civil Service Accountability and Performance has reviewed the assessment and reforms options set out in this  Paper.  Published 9 January 2014The assessment and reform options contained in the Consultation Paper were the subject of an extensive public consultation process. 
Provision of Secretariat to the Independent Panel on Strengthening Civil Service Accountability and PerformanceThe Independent Panel's Report has been published, and its recommendations are currently being considered in the context of determining the Civil Service Renewal Programme. Published 12 June 2014The Independent Panel managed and oversaw an extensive public consultation process.
Registration of Lobbying Bill 2014Bill published.

General Scheme of the Bill published.

Policy Paper Published.

Research registers and background material in other jurisdictions.
December 2011 to dateExtensive consultation undertaken with stakeholders including Government Departments and Offices, regulators from other jurisdictions, academics, private sector, and other interested parties.
Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution (Houses of the Oireachtas Inquiries) Bill 2011Publication of the Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution (Houses of the Oireachtas Inquiries) Bill 2011.

Report on Reasons Behind Voter Behaviour in the Oireachtas Inquiry Referendum 2011
July 2011  to November 2012
Progress the Statute Law Revision ProgrammeStatute Law Revision Act 2012

Work on the preparation of the first Bill in the series is at an advanced stage with over 3,000 secondary instruments identified for revocation.
Enacted on 2 July 2012

It is anticipated that the first Bill will be published in the Autumn Session 2014.
It is intended to carry out a consultation process later this year in relation to the instruments proposed for revocation. 


Review of FOI and development of Code of Practice.Following review of the implementation of Freedom of Information, a draft Code of Practice has been developed and approved by Government.  Following a public consultation process it will be finalised in tandem with the enactment of the FOI Bill.July 2012 Q.4 2014External group of FOI experts and a public bodies group reviewed implementation of FOI over a number of months.  Submissions were also received.  Public consultation process on draft Code now underway.
Freedom of Information Bill 2013


Report Stage in Dail scheduled for 16 JulyHeads of Bill published July 2012.  Enactment expected by early Q4 2014.Extensive across the public sector.  Pre-legislative scrutiny took place. Submissions were also received following publication of Bill.  
Open Government Partnership (OGP)








Ireland's first OGP National Action Plan has been developed in tandem with civil society and will be submitted to Government shortly for approval.  

Hosting of the OGP Europe Regional Meeting in Dublin over 2 days May 2014.


Summer 2013 July 2014

8-9 May 2014 with intensive preparatory work over a few months in advance
Extensive public engagement over the 12 months including public meetings, call for submissions, and a joint working group of Departmental and civil society representatives.   

A wide range of Irish civil society organisations and interested citizens attended
Open Data Project








A suite of measures are being progressed to provide major impetus to Open Data in Ireland. Reports of research compiled by  Insight Centre for Data Analytics NUIG who were engaged for a period of 6 weeks to provide technical support and advice to the Department in the initial phase will be published shortly and a National Open Data portal will be launchedOctober 2013 July 2014Consultation and engagement with all relevant public bodies and with civil society representatives.   
Public Sector Standards Bill

Regulations to prescribe bodies for the purposes of ethics







Prepare response  to international evaluation processes in relation to Ethics in Public Office   


Development of Heads of a General Scheme for an integrated Public Sector Standards Bill at an advanced stage

Preparation of Statutory Instruments and Determination Documents to prescribe bodies and positions for coverage by existing Ethics in Public Office  legislation

Contributed to Ireland's response to evaluations under UNCAC (UN Convention against Corruption), the EU's Anti-Corruption Report and the OECD Working Group on Bribery.  Currently subject to GRECO's (Group of States against Corruption Council of Europe) 4th Round Evaluation on Corruption Prevention in respect of Members of Parliament, Judges & Prosecutors.  
July 2012 July 2014

Annual process








2013-2014


Consultation with relevant public bodies

Consultation with relevant public bodies








Consultation with relevant public bodies and evaluation teams
Protected Disclosures Bill 2013The Bill has completed all stages and is expected to be enacted shortlyHeads of Bill published February 2012 Enactment July 2014Pre-legislative scrutiny, public consultation, engagement with interested parties throughout the process
Ombudsman (Amendment) Act 2012The Act significantly extended the remit of the Ombudsman bringing some 200 additional bodies under the Act and extending the powers of the OmbudsmanEnacted October 2012Consultation with public bodies 
Data Sharing and Governance BillIn October 2013, it was agreed that the Department would commence work on the Bill.

A policy paper has been prepared, and public sector stakeholders have been consulted. 

Following public consultation in Q3 2014, Heads of Bill will be drafted.
It is anticipated the first Bill will be published in Q2 2015.Extensive consultation has taken place across the public sector.

It is intended that a full public consultation will take place inviting written submissions. A plenary session will be held to discuss issues arising.

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