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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 98-104
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts Social Clause
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item National Lottery Licence Sale
 Header Item Public Procurement Regulations
 Header Item Capital Programme Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Reports

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 98-104

Departmental Reports

 98. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will set out the value for money reports and the focused policy assessments carried out within his Department since March 2011; the actions that have been taken to implement such reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28179/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The responsibility for conducting value for money reviews lies in the first instance with the spending Departments and Implementing Agencies. The role of my Department is to assist these bodies by promoting best practice in the evaluation and implementation of programme and project expenditure, including the provision of guidance which is now captured in a unified Public Spending Code. While my Department has not carried out any value for money reviews since the specified date, it has provided on-going technical assistance in respect of the value for money reviews conducted by other Departments.

Focused policy assessments were introduced on foot of the Comprehensive Expenditure Report 2012 - 2014 (http://per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/CER-Estimates-Final2.pdf), as a model whereby a single evaluator or a small team can address specific aspects of policy configuration and delivery in a tightly-focused manner. The Expenditure Report 2013 (http://per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Expenditure-Report-Final-Version-for-Print-04-Dec-2012-pdf-Adobe-Acrobat-Pro.pdf) published some analytical outputs (including analyses on: reducing public expenditure in respect of legal services; the expenditure impacts of climate change; and demographic implications for education expenditure) and provided an overview of the range of work being carried out in the form of focused policy assessments within my Department. This work will feed into the deliberations in respect of the forthcoming Budget. A copy of the two reports mentioned can be found on my Department’s website at the links set out above.

Public Procurement Contracts Social Clause

 99. Deputy John Lyons Information on John Lyons Zoom on John Lyons asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin his plans to promote the use of social clauses for the long-term unemployed in the projects announced as part of the €150 million extra in capital expenditure for 2013 and 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28259/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The use of a social clause requiring a contractor to recruit a certain percentage of those employed on a public works construction site from the ranks of the long term unemployed will be piloted on a limited number of schools projects under the Devolved Schools Programme being administered by the National Development Finance Agency on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

It is important to note that such a provision must be managed carefully both to ensure that the requirements set can be met and monitored but also consideration must be given to their impact on a sector that has experienced decline in output since 2008 as it may result in significant displacement of those already in employment.

Whilst it is not intended to incorporate such provisions as part of the €150 million extra in capital expenditure for 2013 and 2014, the pilot programme under taken as part of the Devolved Schools Programme will inform the activation measures being considered for the €1.4 billion Public Private Partnership (PPP) element of the €2.25 billion Stimulus Programme, announced by my Department. This will result in significant additional investment in the sector over and above the funds committed to the Public Capital Programme and, given the estimated workforce of 13,000 required to deliver the PPP element of the Programme, the provision of a requirement to recruit from the ranks of the long-term unemployed is entirely appropriate in this context.

A framework of contractors has been set up for the Devolved Schools Programme and the first tender will be issued shortly. Once the pilot programme is completed an evaluation will be prepared and submitted to the Government Contracts Committee for Construction for their consideration.

Departmental Reports

 100. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide a list of all publications of forecast accounts from his Department which have been released so far this year, and which will be released for the rest of the year, which provide financial information relevant to budget 2014, and the timing of their release (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28311/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Expenditure Report 2013, published 5 December 2012, included the overall aggregate expenditure ceiling for 2014 which was then split out into Departmental level current and capital expenditure ceilings.

Following on from the Expenditure Report 2013, the Stability Programme Update (SPU)   was published in April 2013 and included aggregate voted and non-voted expenditure ceilings for 2014.

  In line with the new multi-annual budgetary process, the expenditure ceilings for 2014-2016 will be published at the time of the Budget in October this year after detailed discussions have been taken by Government.

National Lottery Licence Sale

 101. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if those currently employed at a company (details supplied) will have their positions protected when the contract for the National Lottery is put out to bid; if it will be a condition of the contract that the technical operations must be based here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28322/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin As you are aware, a competition for the next licence to operate the National Lottery commenced in May 2013 and is due to conclude later this year.

I do not wish to disclose the contents of the draft licence until the competition has been concluded and the licence has been granted to the successful bidder. The Deputy will appreciate that any requirements which might be included in the draft licence concerning the location of the operations of the next licensee must comply with EU law. The Deputy will also be aware that the company to which his question relates is a private company which has a contract with the holder of the current National Lottery licence.

Public Procurement Regulations

 102. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin his views on the way new policies on public procurement will affect small and medium enterprises in view of the concerns expressed by the Small Firms Association; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28365/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Reform of public procurement is one of the major projects of key strategic importance in the Government’s Public Service Reform Plan, which was published in November 2011. Procurement of supplies and services accounts for around €9 billion of current spending by the State per annum. This represents a very significant portion of overall spending and it is, therefore, essential that the Public Service achieves maximum value for money and operational efficiency in its approach to public procurement.

  In this regard, the National Procurement Service (NPS), which will be transferring into the new Office of Government Procurement (OGP), has put in place a number of national arrangements designed to secure better value for money from leveraging the public service’s buying power in relation to a range of goods and services that are commonly purchased across the public service. These national arrangements have benefits that include:

  - cash savings;

  - administrative savings from reduced duplication of tendering;

  - greater purchasing expertise;

  - improved consistency; and,

  - enhanced service levels.

  In some instances the take up of the NPS arrangements has been low. In order to increase the usage of the NPS arrangements and thereby secure best value for money, the Government decided that it should be mandatory for public service bodies to use specified national procurement arrangements. Last year my Department issued Circular 06/12 which implements the Government decision by making it a mandatory requirement that public service bodies avail of specified national arrangements put in place by the NPS.

  While the key purpose of Circular 6/12 is to enable the State to do more with less by aggregating procurement to secure better value for money, it is worth noting that such aggregation arrangements can be implemented in a manner that achieves value for money with a minimal negative impact, or indeed a positive impact, on SMEs. While a number of the categories of goods and services mandated under the Circular are suited to single supplier national arrangements, these need not be accepted as the norm. The greater use, where appropriate, of multi-supplier frameworks can address local supplier issues while also ensuring on-going cost competitiveness of the framework itself. Such multi-supplier frameworks may also offer SMEs the opportunity to participate in national level contracts, thereby offering valuable reference work when competing for public procurement contracts in other jurisdictions.

  In relation to plans for further reform of public procurement, an external review of the central procurement function was commissioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The report of the review, which was published late last year, found that significant savings can be achieved through the implementation of a transformational change to the central procurement model. In December 2012, arising out of recommendations in the report I announced the appointment of a Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) to lead a key element of the Government’s Public Service Reform agenda. The new approach to public procurement will involve:

-   integrating procurement policy, strategy and sourcing in one office;

-   strengthening spend analytics and data management;

-   much greater aggregation of purchasing across public bodies to achieve better value for money;

-   examining the specifications set out for goods and services;

-   evaluating demand levels to assess how demand and volume can be reduced; and

-   strengthening supplier and category management.

  Since the appointment of Mr Paul Quinn, CPO, on 28 January 2013, he has initiated and completed a series of engagements (workshops and one-to-one meetings) with key stakeholders within the public sector and their representatives in relation to the development of the proposed governance structures, implementation plan, transition arrangements and savings targets for the procurement function. The following sectors were engaged in workshops / meetings: Health, Education, Local Government, Defence, Justice, and other Central Government Departments.

  To summarise: the government wants better value for money for our substantial procurement spend and we want Irish SMEs, where necessary, to form alliances and networks to ensure they can tender on a competitive basis for this work. To ensure the reform process takes account of the needs of stakeholders further consultations will be undertaken with employees and workers’ representatives as the new Office for Government Procurement is established. We are committed to ensuring that SMEs are fully engaged in the process and will be encouraged, where necessary, to form alliances and networks to ensure they can tender on a competitive basis for this work.

Capital Programme Expenditure

 103. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin further to his recent announcement of funding of €150 million for capital projects such as new schools, roads, refurbishment of public buildings and so on, the amount of this money that has already been committed to or spent on projects; the date on which it was spent; the amount of money in real terms, out of this pool of €150 million that will now be spent were the project listed already committed to and identified in the past 24 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28377/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin As the Deputy is aware, last Wednesday I announced the allocation of an additional €150m for new capital projects in three sectors, education, transport and social housing. The additional monies will be allocated by the relevant Departments as follows. €50m will be spent on an additional 28 school building projects which were outside and in addition to the published five year building programme. The Department of Education and Skills have identified other schools that have a deficit of mainstream accommodation capacity in respect of current enrolments and/or require major refurbishment/replacement. These 28 (10 replacement schools and 18 large scale extension/refurbishment) projects are those where extensive preparations are complete in terms of architectural planning and which can be progressed quickly to tender and construction with the additional resources available.

In transport, the additional €50m will be spent on the repair and rehabilitation of 600 km of local and regional roads in 29 local authority areas. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport will be providing this extra funding directly to local authorities, which can start work on the repairs as soon as they receive the grants.

In the energy efficiency area, €50m is being provided for a new retrofitting scheme for local authority houses which will target up to 25,000 older local authority dwellings and aim to ensure that adequate wall and attic insulation is provided in all occupied properties. The scheme will be rolled out as quickly as possible so that works can commence during the summer.

All of the additional monies will be allocated to new projects which were not provided for in the budget allocations for 2013 and none of the monies had been spent prior to the announcement.

Departmental Reports

 104. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will set out the value for money reports and the focused policy assessments carried out within his Department since March 2011; the actions that have been taken to implement such reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28177/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department and its enterprise agencies have a culture of engaging in on-going evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of agency supports to business, to ensure that taxpayers are getting value for money and enterprises can avail of the most appropriate supports tailored to their needs.

  Shortly after my appointment as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, I requested that Forfás undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the suite of enterprise support programmes provided by the enterprise development agencies. This involves the systematic evaluation of about 70 programmes. An evaluations framework was developed to ensure a consistency of approach that facilitates comparison (where appropriate) and that is cognisant of the common challenges facing enterprise evaluation. The Framework was informed by international best practice regarding the core principles and methodologies required for the evaluation of enterprise support programmes. It provides a common basis for the evaluation of all enterprise support interventions and is cognisant of common challenges and issues facing enterprise evaluation.

  The aim of the evaluations is to assess the appropriateness, efficiency and effectiveness of this package of supports for enterprises in Ireland. Programmes will be evaluated in terms of:

  - Individual programme performance;

  - Programme performance in relation to other interventions in the enterprise support system;

  - Programme performance in relation to the enterprise policy context that applied during the time period under review.

  The evaluations involve an extensive programme of work involving both internal and external resources. A Steering Group, chaired by Forfás and including representatives from my Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the relevant Enterprise Development Agencies and an external adviser, oversaw the work.

  To structure the evaluations, the agency programmes were categorised by thematic area:

  - Entrepreneurship/Start-up Programmes;

  - Research, Development and Innovation Programmes; and

  - Business Development Programmes.

  The evaluation of programmes under the first two thematic areas above has been completed and will shortly be published. Even in advance of their publication, many of the recommendations are being implemented by my Department and relevant Agencies, both through the Action Plan for Jobs process and as part of Agency on-going redesign of programmes, as schemes are identified as the most likely to impact positively on enterprise, growth and job creation.

  Work on the third thematic area i.e. Business Development Programmes (BDPs) provided by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland has recently commenced.

  The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is also in the process of finalising a separate Focused Policy Assessment on Enterprise Ireland supports to indigenous companies.

  In addition, there were general expenditure reviews of capital and current spending undertaken across my Department in mid-2011, of which a significant element related to STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) expenditure.

  Further, a PA Consulting report was undertaken on behalf of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) regarding a review of Cycles 1 - 3 of the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI) in 2011. While this exercise was not undertaken directly by my Department, as my Department does not have responsibility for the HEA, my Department assumed responsibility for the PRTLI programme in March 2010, and some Cycle 3 projects were still on-going at that time.


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