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Other Questions. - Overseas Development Aid.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 30. Mr. Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  if he will make a statement on the report of a company (details supplied) into staffing at Ireland Aid. [10274/02]

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen In May 2000, Deloitte & Touche was requested by my Department to undertake a review of procurement practices within Ireland Aid. While this report dealt mainly with controls over procurement, which it found are adequate, properly applied in accordance with the relevant guidelines and directives and effective in practice, it referred in passing to the issue of staffing arrangements in the context of the expanding aid programme. The consultants said their discussions pointed to a need for significant changes in the manner in which Ireland Aid is managed and staffed. The lack of long-term career paths for development professionals under the current arrangements seemed to them to undermine the capacity of Ireland Aid to develop structures required to meet the challenges posed by pro[645] jected future growth in funding. While recommendations as to appropriate structural changes were outside the scope of their assignment, the consultants saw urgent implementation of necessary change as a priority.

Ireland Aid is fully seized of the importance of creating long-term career paths for development professionals and has been engaged in discussions on this subject with the Department of Finance. The objective is to achieve arrangements under which professional staff would be given, inter alia, longer contracts and a new grading structure. Some progress is being made in this respect. This is also one of the issues with which the review of Ireland Aid has concerned itself. The committee's report, which has been published this morning, makes a number of recommendations in relation to the management of the programme which I commend to the Deputy's attention. The Government accepts these recommendations and steps will be taken to implement them.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins Will the Department of Finance approve the necessary staff changes in the short-term, that is within the lifetime of the Government?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen It has approved 30 posts as a result of these discussions and there is a commitment in the report to an annual review to ensure that as the fund grows we have the necessary people to do the job properly.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.

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