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 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme (Continued)
 Header Item External Service Delivery

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

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Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran: Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran The Minister will not; me and-----

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe It will also be met by revision of the schedule for the drawdown of funding in the public expenditure and reform and finance group of Votes, totalling €3 million; and with €2 million through changes to the timing of payments for certain capital works undertaken by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. I have also outlined how we need to change processes in the future for projects such as the national children's hospital to reflect all of the issues that developed during the project. I have outlined how we will deal with accruing the €99 million needed for the project this year.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I acknowledge that even with the cut, there is an increase in the Government's capital spend. The Minister has listed the items, some of which include the rescheduling of payments. I think only two are related to the subject we have just discussed - the flood relief scheme and the re-profiling of payments in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. Everything else involves a rescheduling of payments to achieve the sum of €99 million. I am seeking clarity, as is everyone else. No capital projects are being delayed or pushed out as a result of the need to find the €99 million. I am sure the Minister has heard in recent weeks that capital projects in Waterford or Limerick are being delayed as a result. Is he now saying none of them is being delayed as a result of the need to find the €99 million and that any delay is due to external variables related to the planning process, etc?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I have always said we will manage the issue primarily through rescheduling and changing payments for projects. I have shared a list with the House and have previously outlined it publicly. The vast majority are related to how we manage payments that we will make for projects. I have said there will be no delays on any major project as a result. I will work with Government colleagues throughout the rest of the year to ensure we end up with a rescheduling of payments without delays on projects, particularly major projects. I am confident that will happen. As is always the case, it is possible as we move through the year that savings will accrue owing to things happening such as those outlined by the Minister of State, Deputy Moran. We normally look at where we stand by the summer. We are simply doing that work far earlier than we have done it before.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien Will the same process need to be undertaken next year to find savings within the Department to meet the ongoing overrun or is this a once-off €99 million in 2019 and that is it? As the Minister knows the overrun on the paediatric hospital is €450 million, leaving another €351 million. Is he saying this process will continue for a number of years or is this the only year? I seek clarity on that.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I will be able to provide clarity for the Deputy a little later in the year. As things stand, budget 2020 is a long way away. Decisions on the allocation of capital funding are many months away from being made. The focus of my efforts now is on ensuring the decision we have made on how we will manage the cost of the national children's hospital this year will not affect plans for 2019. I am working to do that and believe we will do it. The Deputy has been very considered and accurate in the issues he has raised with me in recent months. If I had come into the House and said we would increase our capital spending plans for this year by €100 million, the House would have been united in saying I had torn up the plans for budget 2019 a few weeks into it. I will not do that and will deal with decisions on what will happen in 2020 and beyond later in the year.

External Service Delivery

 49. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the proposed changes to the external workplace investigation service framework; the firms providing services; and the cost of such services since 2012.  [10625/19]

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith I ask the Minister about the proposed changes to the external workplace investigation service framework, the firms providing services and the cost of such services since 2012.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Office of Government Procurement, OGP, carried out a competitive tender process for the establishment of a framework agreement for the provision of external workplace investigation services available to Departments and other public bodies. The framework has been in operation since March this year and will expire at the end of March. The framework suppliers for the delivery of services under the framework are as follows: Acrux Consulting Limited; Collier Broderick Management Consultants and Raise A Concern Limited.

The OGP is facilitating competitions under the framework for both central government and non-central government public bodies. In that respect it acts in an advisory role, but the individual public bodies using it are accountable and responsible for the competitions under the framework and any subsequent contract.

The number of investigations undertaken by each company and the cost of each investigation are matters for the relevant contracting authority.

The Office of Government Procurement is conducting a competitive tender for the establishment of a new framework agreement for the provision of external workplace investigation services to replace the existing framework when it expires. The competition is being evaluated and the outcome of the tender process is awaited.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith According to the Office of Government Procurement, it outsources the service because it offers benefits, including: "Competitive rates; Flexibility in draw-down process to enable end-users to tailor to their own particular requirements; User-friendly draw-down procedures with OGP support; [and] Standardised and improved workplace investigation quality". In common with much of the rhetoric on public procurement, the logic behind it is that it delivers better value, is more efficient and will achieve an external workplace investigation service in a cheaper and fairer way. However, we know from experience with the national broadband plan, the national children's hospital project and CervicalCheck that the rhetoric of private sector efficiency is collapsing and that the neoliberal ideology that underpins it is expensive nonsense. This is another example of the Minister's rhetoric not matching reality. It is highly wasteful and I will give examples to show why I believe that is the case when I have a further minute to respond.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Deputy referred to neoliberal ideology. I am not a neoliberal, but I believe there is a role in looking at how we can achieve value for money and ensure a variety of organisations will bid for particular projects. The Deputy referred to the national children's hospital. It is a State-funded project that will deliver services that will be available to citizens, young boys and girls. I would have thought that was the essence of the type of public service she would like to see improved, despite, I acknowledge, the great difficulties we have had in the latter part of that process. If she has particular concerns about the tendering process, I am sure she will share them with me now. There are many examples of public services - public transport, roads, primary care centres and schools - that have been really well delivered via the private sector through a tendering process. The Deputy may be suggesting the Government and the public sector should automatically proceed to build every project without a tendering process. I do not believe that is any more likely to lead to value for money than the processes that, by and large, work for us.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith There are existing human resources capabilities within each Department and it is a role of the public service to provide human resources in each Department.


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