Written answers

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Departmental Policies

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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45. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has any plans to reform the civil/public service to ensure greater accountability, transparency and that senior management is reflective of the diversity of society today. [23300/23]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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My Department has been at the forefront of driving institutional change through a wide-ranging programme of legislative reform intended to enhance trust and transparency across Government. Important legislative measures include Regulation of Lobbying; Protected Disclosures; Freedom of Information; Statute Law Revision and Houses of the Oireachtas Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures. My Department also created the whodoeswhat.gov.ie website that sets out the assignment of responsibilities under the Public Service Management Act 1997.

My Department is currently reviewing the FOI Act and, based on that review, legislative proposals will be advanced this year. As part of the drive towards greater openness and transparency, my Department has also led policy development on Open Data in Ireland with a new strategy nearing finalisation. It also coordinates Ireland's participation in the Open Government Partnership, as well as the development of Consultation Principles and Guidance, which provide guidance for public bodies seeking the public’s views relating to their work programmes.

As the Deputy may be aware, there is a strict control and accountability framework in place for the use of public monies. The objective of the framework is to ensure that all public monies are expended for the purpose of and in accordance with the laws under which they were approved. The fundamental principle is that there should be transparency and accountability in the management of public money, in line with economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Secretaries General, as Accounting Officers, are responsible for the stewardship of public funds and required to give evidence to Oireachtas Committees on how they discharged this responsibility.

The Role and Responsibilities of Accounting Officers are set out in the “Memorandum for Accounting Officers” issued by my Department. The document outlines the system of accountability for public moneys.  It sets out the duties and responsibilities of Accounting Officers in that system and describes the systems and functions that should be in place to support Accounting Officers in carrying out their duties. I am satisfied that a detailed and comprehensive governance framework for public expenditure is in place  to ensure that there is economical, efficient and effective use of public funds in line with the purpose to which they are allocated. 

In regard to performance management for Senior Public Service (SPS) grades, the development of robust processes was a key action of 2014 Civil Service Renewal. Performance Management processes are now embedded at SPS levels, including Secretary General level. The processes are designed to appropriately balance the range of challenges faced by senior leaders in serving the Government, their Ministers and the public interest; as administrative heads of their organisations, and leaders of the wider Civil Service. The Deputy may wish to note that ministerial responsibility for the ethics reform agenda, which has implications for accountability and transparency of senior and designated civil servants, now lies with the Minister for Finance.

In relation to diversity of staff, the Civil and Public Services are committed to improving equality, diversity and inclusion across all grades. The Civil Service Renewal 2030 Strategy commits to nurturing an equal, diverse, inclusive, engaged and empowered workforce. While, one of the key priorities of Better Public Services, the new Public Service Transformation Strategy which I launched recently, is to ensure a Public Service that is more diverse, agile and inclusive and reflects Irish society. I look forward to seeing progress in these areas over the lifetime of each strategy.


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