Thursday, 19 January 2023
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Public Expenditure Policy
121. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps he will consider to maximise the benefits of reform in the context of public expenditure, with particular reference to ensuring any factors contributing to a challenge might be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2349/23]
145. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which reforms throughout the public sector remain in place to ensure accountability, collective responsibility and good value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2384/23]
216. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which the utilisation of reform is likely to continue with consequent benefit to the Exchequer and the consumer over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2580/23]
217. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he expects to introduce reform as a means of ensuring greater value to the consumer in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2581/23]
218. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which each Department and those bodies under their aegis have observed the principles of reform as means of ensuring value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2582/23]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 121, 145, 216, 217 and 218 together.
My Department works to serve the country, its people and the Government by delivering well managed and well-targeted public spending, delivered through modernised, effective and accountable public services. My Department develops major initiatives in collaboration with Government Departments and public service sectors and works to enable the delivery of sectoral reform priorities.
Examples of reforms developed by my Department since it was established in 2011 include those in relation to:
- Successive Civil and Public Service Reform Plans and Making Innovation Realthe Public Service Innovation Strategy
- Expenditure reforms and innovations in policy-making including the establishment of the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES)
- Digital Government including the establishment of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and the infrastructure to provide online services;
- Shared services and procurement reform including the establishment of the National Shared Services Office (NSSO) for shared HR, pensions and payroll services and the Office for Government Procurement to lead procurement reform
- HR professionalization and OneLearning the shared learning and development centre and rules governing staff including the Civil Service People Strategy and revised Disciplinary Code
- Initiatives to support better customer service and enhanced employee engagement and
- Legislative and policy reform to enhance trust and transparency across government including Regulation of Lobbying, Protective Disclosures, Freedom of Information legislation and well as delivering the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan with Civil Society, the development of the Open Data Strategy, the implementation of Data Governance legislation and deliver the biennial OECD Trust in Public Institutions Survey with CSO.
The current plans are ambitious and build on the achievements to date. In that context, the ten-year strategy for the Civil Service, Civil Service Renewal 2030is built on three core themes – Digital First and Embedding Innovation; Workforce, Workplace and Organisation of the Future, and Evidence-Informed Policy and Services. The strategic priorities will be achieved through three-year Action Plans, the first of which is Civil Service Renewal 2024.
Connecting Government 2030: A Digital and ICT Strategy for Ireland’s Public Service sets out an approach to deliver digital government for all, benefitting both society and the broader economy. My Department recently hosted a public consultation process to help plan how we deliver improved digital public services. In addition, work on the next phase of public service transformation, as a successor to the Our Public Servicereform programme, is continuing with an opportunity to focus on the needs of people and the way in which services are delivered in an integrated manner (e.g. life events portal). This next phase will also build on the lessons learned from the successful innovations implemented during the COVID-19 response.
In terms of collective responsibility for the implementation of reform, my Department chairs the Public Service Leadership Board, drawn from senior management in the Civil and Public Service, to ensure coherence of reform across the system. The Board will play a key role in leading the next phase of reform. In regard to value for money, all Government Departments and public service bodies are required to carefully manage public funds and to ensure that the best possible value is obtained whenever public money is spent or invested.
As part of this broader approach to ensuring value for money, the introduction of shared services and centralised procurement in earlier phases of reform have been further integrated in public service operations and expanded into new areas. These expansions will continue and we are exploring new areas to further embed reforms that will enhance the cost-effectiveness of public services; for example, through leading or enabling digitalisation of key public services, automation, innovation, new ways of working and service design.
Finally, in regard to the Public Service Pay Agreement ‘Building Momentum’, the parties to the Agreement are committed to the ongoing reform and development of public services to meet the changing needs of citizens, communities, businesses and the staff who deliver public services.