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17 Dec, 2019

The new Public Spending Code: Guide to Evaluating, Planning and Managing Public Investment in Ireland

2019-12-17T14:13:51+00:00December 17th, 2019|News|Comments Off on The new Public Spending Code: Guide to Evaluating, Planning and Managing Public Investment in Ireland

An updated version of the Public Spending Code has been published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It has been designed to strengthen the existing Code to better reflect the realities of project delivery, with a particular focus on financial appraisal, cost estimation and risk management.

At the launch of the Code, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform Paschal Donohoe pointed out that – ‘’Major projects are complex endeavours. They take many years to develop and build, involve multiple public and private stakeholders, and the management of complex challenges including physical, technological, legal, and environmental. Rigorous application of the updated Public Spending Code will equip public bodies to anticipate, plan for, and overcome these issues” 

What is the Public Spending Code?
The Public Spending Code was first published in 2013. The roles, procedures and guidelines have now been updated to ensure value for money in public expenditure across the Irish Public Service. The Code applies to all organisations that spend public money.

The updated Code is designed specifically to:
• Support public bodies in delivering greater value for money
• Provide greater clarity on roles and responsibilities;
• Revise the project lifecycle to reflect the realities of project delivery;
• Strengthen guidance, and
• Increase transparency through publication of business cases and evaluation reports.

If applied rigorously the updated Code should indeed support public bodies in improving the accuracy of cost estimation and forecasting. It should also ensure that risk identification and risk management are strengthened.
It should be pointed out that some parts of the previous Code have not been changed. The requirements of the updated Code as a whole will apply from 1 January 2020.

 

Why focus on capital projects?
The revised Code places particular emphasis on capital projects. This is hardly surprising having regard to cost overruns on major capital projects such as the National Children’s Hospital. For that reason, a number of additional checks have been added to the process. In particular, the revised Code will be supplemented by a new governance and assurance process for major projects (those with an estimated cost of more than €100 million). This new process will involve an independent, external review of major projects at key stages in the project lifecycle. Where as previously there were four stages, this number will now be six. Table 1 summarises the stages under the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ codes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A common cause of problems in projects in Ireland and internationally is a failure to clearly specify objectives and desired outcomes at the outset. For that reason the revised Code has introduced a new assessment stage to ensure early engagement with and scrutiny of potential public investment projects and programmes. In particular, this stage will examine the rationale for potential policy interventions and ensure the strategic fit of potential projects and programmes with government policy, in particular the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan.

What changes for Public Private Partnerships?

As part of the revised Code, new guidelines have been introduced for Public Private Partnerships (PPP). The new guidelines update and replace those published by the Department of Finance in July 2006 and reflect changes in policy on PPP Procurement, in the light of practical experience gained in delivering PPP projects and other relevant developments. The revised Code sets out the major stages that must be undertaken for the evaluation and procurement of all public infrastructure projects. However, some of the steps followed in PPP procurement, differ from those set out in the Public Spending Code – see Figure 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will there be more updating?
The Public Spending Code will continue to be updated. Already Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has signalled that more technical guidance will be provided during 2020. In particular, the Department is developing a new governance and assurance process for major projects with an estimated cost of over €100 million. This new process is being informed by international best practice. It will involve an independent external review of major projects at key stages. The Department points out that – “The detail of the process and arrangements for implementation will be scoped and developed with a target operational date of mid-2020”.

Conclusion
The Public Spending Code will continue to be a key document with wide-ranging relevance for the Public Sector. It is important that it continues to encourage a thorough, long-term and analytically approach by Public Bodies in the planning, appraisal, evaluation and monitoring of public expenditure. It is also important that the Code is regularly updated to ensure that it contains procedures and processes that are in line with best international practice.
The Code of itself is not a panacea. There is a responsibility on Departments and State Bodies to apply the Code in the course of their work of rolling-out public expenditure. There is also a necessity to have regular reports published to demonstrate that the Code is being fully operated. Only in this way can Irish taxpayers can be assured that they are getting real value for money from public expenditure.

 


Tom Ferris is a Consultant Economist specialising in Better Regulation. He lectures on a number of PAI courses and blogs regularly for PAI. He was formerly the Senior Economist at the Department of Transport.

27 Nov, 2019

Legislative Reform Process differs in Ireland from that of the USA

2019-11-27T12:31:47+00:00November 27th, 2019|News|Comments Off on Legislative Reform Process differs in Ireland from that of the USA

Ireland and the USA adopt different approaches to the review and repeal of outdated legislation. In Ireland, the tidying of the Statute Book has been approached through a series of Statute Law Revision Acts. In the USA, President Trump introduced Executive Order 137711, in January 2017, to focus on “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”. That policy stated that “… for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled through a budgeting process”.

 

Why Repeal Laws and Regulations?

Today laws and regulations should be relevant and fit for purpose. There needs to be clarity as to what legislation is in fact in force. Laws and regulations should be brought up to date and made relevant on a continuing basis. In Ireland’s case, a lot of updating has been done to the stock of legislation; legislation that has derived from a number of sources; from England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, as well as domestic sources. Best practice in regulatory governance suggests that a country’s existing stock of legislation be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure laws and regulations are up-to-date and fit for purpose.

Ireland’s Programme of Revision

Ireland’s first Statute Law Revision Programme started in 2003. Its purpose was to modernise and simplify the Statute Book by removing obsolete pieces of legislation, in order to reduce its size and make it more understandable and accessible to those who use it. That work continued until the end of 2016. By 2016, six Acts had been enacted – See Table 1.

 

 

 

 

These Acts dealt with a wide range of old legislation, including:
• Repeal of a selection of pre-1922 statutes;
• Comprehensive revision of pre-1922 Public General Acts;
• Revision of all Private Acts up to and including 1750 and all Local and Personal Acts up to and including 1850;
• Revision of all Private Acts from 1750 to 1922 and all Local and Personal Acts from 1850 to 1922;
• Secondary Instruments made before 1 January 1821 were revoked, and
• Repeal of primary legislation, considered obsolete, enacted between 1922 and 1950.

The volume of work was considerable. In that regard, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, TD, in reply to a Parliamentary Question on 15 November 2016 pointed out that – “ To date, over 60,000 pieces of legislation have been either expressly or implicitly repealed under the programme. Collectively this is the most extensive set of repealing measures in the history of the State and the most extensive set of statute law revision measures ever enacted anywhere in the world”. Nevertheless, the Minister went on to announce that he had decided – “…in view of the progress made, to pause the Statute Law Revision Programme at this time in order that my Department can progress other priorities”.  It is clear that notwithstanding the Trojan work undertaken to date, there is still work needed to complete the work. The obvious candidate to do this work is the Law Reform Commission. The Law Reform Commission Act 1975 states that Commission’s role is to keep the law under review and to conduct research with a view to the reform of the law. 

Trump’s Two-for-one Policy
What about the USA’s repeal process? Since 2017, for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations are required to be identified for elimination. The US Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Statistics, which is part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is responsible for implementing this Executive Order and reporting on its progress. Results for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 have been published by OIRA and they are summarised in Table 2. The web reference for OIRA is here.

For Fiscal Year 2017, the table shows that there were 67 regulations repealed and 3 regulations introduced. This suggests a ‘success ratio’ of 22 (67 divided by 3); considerably higher than the target set of 2:1. However, there have been criticisms of the ‘success ratio’. For example, Professor Stuart Shapiro, writing for The Hill, criticised the published ratios. He pointed out that the data used for calculating the ratio – “… includes actions such as delaying regulations that were not yet in effect. Some of these rules will eventually be published. In other cases, agencies have been sued over their delays and may be forced to rescind them The ratio may also include proposals that the Trump administration will never finalize (but were not actually in effect) and counting multiple repeals of the same regulation.”.

For Fiscal Year 2018, Table 2 shows that there were 57 significant regulations repealed and 14 regulations introduced. This suggests a ‘success ratio’ of 4 (57 divided by 14); twice the target set. A recent Brooking Institution publication concludes that the 2018 data are more reliable than those for 2017. Specifically, it states that the inclusion of “significant regulations” – “…is closer to an apples-to-apples comparison, which is more useful when trying to weigh the deregulatory and regulatory actions against each other”. Nevertheless, the Brooking Institution report concluded that the changes introduced – “… have not immunized these counts from continued criticism”. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost Savings
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) also estimates the cost savings emerging from the policy of regulatory change. As shown in Table 2 above, the total regulatory cost savings was over $8 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 and over $23 billion in Fiscal Year 2018. While these are significant savings, some analysts suggest that the basis of the calculations require close examination. For example, the Brooking Institution publication listed above recommends that every regulatory action – “…should publicly disclose the costs or costs savings attributable to that action…This will help the public provide comments on the agencies’ estimates. It will also facilitate verification on the back end when OIRA reports the totals, which is currently not possible for most actions”. The Institution also recommended that – “…Agencies should provide enough detail in their regulatory and deregulatory actions to recreate the cost and cost savings estimates, including key methodological assumptions like the long-term cost pattern of each rule”.

 

Conclusion
In Ireland, the body of work undertaken in repealing obsolete laws between 2003 and 2016 is impressive. It is clear that notwithstanding that Trojan work, there is still work needed to complete the revision project. The obvious candidate to do this work is the Law Reform Commission. Under the Law Reform Commission Act 1975 it is stated that Commission’s role is to keep the law under review and to conduct research with a view to the reform of the law.

President Trump’s regulatory policy has demonstrated successes with his new policy. However, this policy does run the risk of having unintended consequences. For example, there is a danger that good regulations might be removed, if the ‘two-for-one’ policy is applied too rigorously. It is important that good regulations are not lost sight-of. After all, it is good regulations that create the standards and rules that govern the way markets operate, that provide customers with reassurance as regards the quality of the products and services they buy, and that make sure that government works well at central and at local level.

 

 


 

Tom Ferris is a Consultant Economist specialising in Better Regulation. He lectures on a number of PAI courses and blogs regularly for PAI. He was formerly the Senior Economist at the Department of Transport

18 Oct, 2019

Bank Bailout costs State nearly €42 billion

2019-10-18T09:30:51+01:00October 18th, 2019|News|Comments Off on Bank Bailout costs State nearly €42 billion

The bill for bailing out the Irish Banks has reached nearly €42 billion.

The Office of the Controller and Auditor General (C&AG) published the estimate in the ‘Report of the Public Services 2018’. Earlier estimates put the net cost at between €40 and €42.4 billion. The report points out that – “The net overall cost continues to evolve as the interventions end or wind down”.

https://www.audit.gov.ie/en/Find-Report/Publications/Report%20on%20the%20Accounts%20of%20the%20Public%20Services/Report%20on%20the%20Accounts%20of%20the%20Public%20Services%202018.html

The Bailout

The State had to take a series of measures to stabilise the banking system following the financial crisis of 2008.  The measures included:-

  • Provision by the Central Bank of exceptional liquidity assistance to domestic banks,
  • Government guarantees of deposits and certain other liabilities, Significant recapitalisation of domestic banks and
  • Establishment of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to acquire impaired assets from banks.

Obviously, there has been a lot of activity in each of the foregoing areas during the past decade. What the C&AG has now done is to estimate what the net position was as at 31 December 2018. The net position by institution was:

• Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) — estimated net cost of €36.4 billion;
• Allied Irish Bank (AIB) — estimated net cost of €9.5 billion;
• Permanent TSB — estimated net cost of €1.3 billion
• Bank of Ireland — estimated net surplus of €1.3 billion.

Figure A illustrates the net positions in diagrammatic form:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of the Road

Is the C&AG’s recent estimate the end of the road for the Bailout? Sadly the answer is no.  The net costs will continue to rise due to the ongoing cost of servicing the associated long-term debt. In the long term, when all of the State’s remaining shareholdings have been sold, NAMA has realised its surplus and the Central Bank has disposed of the government bonds it holds, the cost of servicing the debt will be determined. Specifically, the cost of servicing the debt by the prevailing borrowing costs for the State — around €420 million for each percentage point incurred. The C&AG’s report points out that – “For borrowing rates between 2.5% and 3%, it is estimated the interest cost will be between €1.1 billion and €1.3 billion a year for the foreseeable future”.

The eventual net outturn will also be affected by the extent to which the NAMA surplus and the amounts the State realises for its remaining shareholdings differ from the end of 2018 values. According to the C&AG Report – “ The State is not expected to recover further significant funds from its investment in IBRC…it is unlikely that the State will generate a surplus on its investment of €22.2 billion in AIB”.

 

Lessons to be learned

Very few people in Ireland have been untouched by the negative effects of the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent bank bailout. There are some who argue that the banks should have been allowed to go bust. But as Patrick Honohan points out in his book “Currency, Credit and Crisis” (2019) that “Every country needs a well functioning banking system. It provides the mechanism for making payments and other elements of the life-blood of the economy”. And so the Irish government took the decision to bail out the banks. That decision has had many consequences, including the need to ensure greater accountability in the banking sector. In this regard, on foot of a request made by Minister Donohoe in November  has been underway to turn the recommendations into legislation. Last June, the Government agreed that draft Heads of a Bill should be brought forward

https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/355c31-t/

The Heads of a Bill will attempt to achieve a number of objectives. First, to ensure the introduction of a Senior Executive Accountability Regime (SEAR) which places obligations on firms and their senior individuals to set out clearly where responsibility and decision-making lies. Second, to introduce Conduct Standards for individuals and firms to provide for statutory powers to set and impose binding and enforceable obligations on all Regulated Financial Service Providers (RFSPs). Third, to introduce an enhanced Fitness & Probity Regime to ensure the effective operation of the regime and the ability of the regime to support the Central Bank’s proposed individual accountability framework and the conduct standards for individuals and firms. Finally, to break the “Participation Link” which addresses the known deficiency in the legislation which requires the Central Bank to first prove a contravention of financial services legislation against a RFSP before it can take an action against an individual.

It will be interesting to see how this new legislation is developed. There is no doubt that such legislation is necessary and timely. In particular, it should be seen to drive positive changes in terms of a wider banking culture, greater delegation of responsibilities, and enhanced accountability while simplifying the imposition of sanctions against individuals who fail in their financial sector roles. Watch this space.

 

 

Tom Ferris is a Consultant Economist specialising in Better Regulation. He lectures on a number of PAI courses and blogs regularly for PAI. He was formerly the Senior Economist at the Department of Transport.

16 Oct, 2019

eInvoicing reaches milestone in Ireland, with Central Government eInvoicing enabled, on the journey to digital transformation

2019-10-16T12:42:26+01:00October 16th, 2019|News|Comments Off on eInvoicing reaches milestone in Ireland, with Central Government eInvoicing enabled, on the journey to digital transformation

Reflecting on the past two years progress, Declan McCormack, programme manager, eInvoicing Ireland at the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) tracks the Irish eInvoicing journey so far.  

 

 

The eInvoicing Ireland journey started in earnest just two years ago, with the launch of the European Standard on electronic invoicing and now over 85% of Central Government bodies have become eInvoicing enabled, are compliant with the EU Directive and support the European Standard. This move to digital has been facilitated and enabled by the OGP’s national framework agreement for the provision of eInvoicing systems and services. The Framework is available to access on the Buyers Zone at ogp.gov.ie

 

The European Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing ‘eInvoicing Directive’ was transposed into Irish legislation earlier this year, allowing Sub Central Government until 18 April 2020 to reach compliance with the Directive. eInvoicing Ireland are working with Sub Central Government sector partners in Health, Education and Local Government to support them in their preparations to achieve compliance with the eInvoicing Directive. Enabling all Government bodies to be eInvoicing compliant signifies a real commitment to the greater use of digital to do business with the public service, the third of six high-level outcomes set out in ‘Our Public Service 2020’ strategy.

 

A key component of Ireland’s transition to eInvoicing is PEPPOL – the network (akin to a mobile phone network) that connects businesses to governments, and businesses to businesses, for the electronic exchange of procurement documents including eInvoices. Since Ireland became an Authority member 18 months ago, joining 19 other European countries on the network, PEPPOL has expanded beyond its European reach. Singapore has become a driving force, in South-East Asia, for PEPPOL based eInvoicing, joining as an Open PEPPOL Authority earlier this year. In February the Australian and New Zealand governments jointly announced their intention to adopt PEPPOL for eInvoicing business transactions in both countries. From Pan-European to global network, this means that any Irish business, by connecting once to the PEPPOL network, can send eInvoices to anyone on the network – very quickly breaking down traditional barriers to trade and opening up the world through digitisation.

 

The second stage, on the journey to digital transformation, for Central and Sub-Central Government and the shared services and co-ordinating facilities who are already receiving eInvoices, is to raise awareness among suppliers that this digital option is available when doing business with the public sector. Encouraging suppliers to issue eInvoices will support eInvoicing in becoming the main method of invoice processing in public procurement. eInvoicing Ireland supports the promotion of supplier eInvoicing adoption, in accordance with the European Directive and national eInvoicing approach, so as to realise the associated benefits.

 

In addition to reducing the administrative burden on both the private and public sectors and the environmental benefits, there are also data gathering and mining benefits to eInvoicing. The true value of transparent data is still to be fully realised though, as explained by Roberto Viola, European Commission Director General, DG Connect

“This future will be built on data, and is increasingly becoming the foundation of our economy. The European data economy, can bring us benefits in terms of the development of new technologies and the emergence of ecosystems around data“. (November 2018)

The invoice links data in every step of the procure-to-pay lifecycle. eInvoicing allows access to that data in a digital format that can be analysed and better understood. Accessing and interrogating such data supports public bodies to make more informed decisions with regard to expenditure, helping to achieve better outcomes for the public and business.

 

eInvoicing Ireland provides information materials and tools to support Government becoming eInvoicing enabled – available at www.opg.gov.ie/eInvoicing.

For further information on eInvoicing please email einvoicing@ogp.gov.ie

 

Ends.

20 Sep, 2019

Coaching and Mentoring – Benefits to an Organisation from an L&D Perspective

2019-09-20T15:33:56+01:00September 20th, 2019|News|Comments Off on Coaching and Mentoring – Benefits to an Organisation from an L&D Perspective

 

Coaching and Mentoring – Benefits to an Organisation from an L&D Perspective
HR and L&D Masterclass – Q3 2019 – Friday 20 September
Public Affairs Ireland, Dublin 1

On this beautiful sunny morning, Public Affairs Ireland facilitated the first of its HR and L&D Masterclasses. Interest was high and the venue was at capacity with over 50 professionals from Public Sector Organisations registering to attend.

This quarters CPD accredited masterclass focused on ‘Coaching and Mentoring’ and delivering the topic was Adjunct Professor in Trinity College Dublin and consultant trainer for Public Affairs Ireland – Síle O’Donnell. Síle has a wealth of experience in HR in the Public Sector, with over 25 years’ experience of designing and implementing best practice human resource management and employee relations initiatives and policies in the public sector.

Síle discussed the three crucial themes (from the CIPD HR Profession Map) to help people learn and drive organisational performance. One of these crucial themes is Coaching and Mentoring.

“96% of L&D teams view coaching and mentoring as a priority” (research undertaken by CIPD/Towards Maturity)

The three crucial themes include:

  • coaching and mentoring
  • social and collaborative learning
  • digital learning and training delivery

 

Sharing her expertise on mentoring, Síle outlined the steps involved in implementing a mentoring scheme including:

  • Identifying target mentees and mentors
  • Developing structures and a governance framework
  • Matching mentees and mentors and
  • Evaluating the scheme.

Síle went on to identify the pitfalls of the mentor/mentee relationships and need to establish clear boundaries.

Attendees gathered into groups and discussed their own organisational needs, experiences and what worked/did not work for them.

Wrapping up the event, Sile emphasised the importance of peer learning and joining professional networks, like this one, to share and learn.

Feedback was positive and appreciative.
“Síle is highly knowledgeable and delivered the content clearly and in an easy to understand manner”
“It’s good to gather at these events and talk to people, see what they are doing and what works for them”
“I will definitely attend the next networking event”

 

Networking can help you meet new people and advance your career.

Register your interest in attending the next HR and L&D Masterclass – for Public Sector Professionals, email education@pai.ie using your work email address and we will keep you up-to-date on events in HR and L&D.

30 Aug, 2019

Updating the Public Spending Code

2019-08-30T12:56:12+01:00August 30th, 2019|News|Comments Off on Updating the Public Spending Code

What is the Public Spending Code?

The Public Spending Code is the set of rules and procedures that are applied to expenditure across the Irish public service. The opening webpage for the Code points out that –“All Irish public bodies are obliged to treat public funds with care, and to ensure that the best possible value-for-money is obtained whenever public money is being spent or invested” http://publicspendingcode.per.gov.ie/.

The Code was initially introduced in Budget 2012. In September 2013, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform formally notified Departments and Offices that the new consolidated code applied to them. In particular, the circular pointed out that it was relevant to all officials in public bodies involved in activities related to the appraisal, management, implementation and review of expenditure. In short, all managers with responsibility for public expenditure are now required to ensure adherence to the Public Spending Code. As well as consolidating earlier guidelines, the application of the Code was widened to include current expenditure as well as capital expenditure. Box A summarises the structure of the Code:-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the heart of the Code are the tools and processes for appraising public expenditure. They include:-

· Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA);

· Cost Effectiveness Analysis(CEA);

· Focused Policy Assessments (FPAs);

· Multi Criteria Analysis (MCAs);

· Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIAs), and

· Value for Money Reviews (VFMs).

These tools and processes have a critical role to play in assisting Public Bodies fully discharge their responsibilities of ensuring that the best possible value-for-money is obtained whenever public money is being spent or invested.

 

What changes have been made?

Changes have made to the Code in four main areas during the past two years. They are summarised in the following paragraphs:-

· Quality Assurance Checklists: The quality assurance checklists contained in Section A-04 of the Public Spending Code were updated in early 2018. It is important that quality assurance is undertaken and published to show that the Code is actually being complied with by those that are responsible for public expenditure.

· Post Project Reviews: In March 2018, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published a circular on post project reviews. This circular reiterates the requirement that post project reviews should be completed in the case of all large scale public investment projects, including Public Private Partnerships (PPPS) – https://circulars.gov.ie/pdf/circular/per/2018/06.pdf

· Value for Money Review and Focused Policy Assessment Guidelines: In January 2018 the guidelines for these evaluation methodologies were updated. The new guidelines appear as Section C-04 of the Code.

· Technical Parameters for Appraisal: In July 2019, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published a circular that updates the central technical references and economic appraisal parameters contained in the Code. Specifically, the Code updates the application of four main parameters, namely the Social Discount Rate, the Shadow Price of Public Funds, the Shadow Price of Labour and the Shadow Price of Carbon – https://assets.gov.ie/20001/35c13bbd055a4a09961a4ec59c93c798.pdf

 

Will there be more Changes?

As new information and new requirements come to the fore, the Code will need to be updated. Further changes have already been signalled in two sections of the annex to the Climate Action Plan published last June. https://www.dccae.gov.ie/documents/Climate%20Action%20Plan%202019%20-%20Annex%20of%20Actions.pdf

First, the requirement to ‘carbon proof’ Government Policy will impact on regulatory impact assessments and project evaluation processes. Specifically, the Climate Action Plan states that – “We will also ensure that all Government memoranda and major investment decisions are subject to a carbon impact and mitigation evaluation, for which a template will be developed. This will be incorporated in Cabinet procedures, in regulatory impact assessments, and in project evaluation processes”.

The second change relates to actions required to reform the Public Spending Code to increase the shadow price of carbon and introduce more robust consideration of climate impacts in project appraisal. Some of the action has already been taken with the circular issued by Department of Public Expenditure and Reform last July (see foregoing section). The scope for further environmental reform that might impact on the Public Spending Code will be examined. The full range of actions published in an annex to the Climate Change Plan is reproduced in Box B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

The Public Spending Code will continue to be a key document with wide-ranging relevance for the Public Sector. It is important that it continues to encourage a thorough, long-term and analytically approach by Public Bodies to planning, appraisal, evaluation and monitoring of public expenditure. It is also important that the Code is regularly updated to ensure that it contains procedures and processes that are in line with best international practice.

The Code of itself is not a panacea. There is a responsibility on Departments and State Bodies to apply the Code in the course of their work of rolling-out public expenditure. There is also a necessity to have regular reports published to demonstrate that the Code is being full operated. In this way Irish taxpayers can be assured that they are getting real value for money from public expenditure.

 

———————————————————————-

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Ferris is a Consultant Economist specialising in Better Regulation. He lectures on a number of PAI courses and blogs regularly for PAI. He was formerly the Senior Economist at the Department of Transport.

25 Jul, 2019

The Capital Works Management Framework – Breakfast Masterclass

2019-07-25T15:11:07+01:00July 25th, 2019|News|Comments Off on The Capital Works Management Framework – Breakfast Masterclass

The Breakfast briefing on the Capital Works Management Framework was held on Wednesday July 24th. William Brown, a construction lawyer and procurement specialist, kept the audience of public sector procurement and construction professionals engaged as he analysed the intricacies of the Capital Works Management Framework.

The session delved into issues such as procurement strategies, instructions to tenderers and requirements for tenders and appropriate contract selection.  Examples including that of BAM vs The National Treasury Management Agency, provided intriguing practical scenarios for the implementation of the Capital Works Management Framework. This case examined if the NTMA had discretion to accept tenders which came in after the stated deadline, as was the case of BAM’s tender application in 2015. An interesting discussion followed on whether the ruling was justified.

Another case cited was the case of MT Hojgaard v  E.ON (2017). MT Højgaard was engaged by E.ON to design, fabricate and install the foundation structures for 60 offshore wind turbines in the Solway Firth. Shortly after completion, connections incorporated within the foundation structures failed. The parties agreed that E.ON would develop a scheme of remedial works, the cost of which amounted to €26 million.

Practical advice was provided for dealing with abnormally low tender offers and what to do in the case where an authority considers the tenderer to be unable to carry out the contract.  An interesting  and helpful analogy was his likening of the procurement process to that of a funnel – when tender applications are received, they are reduced gradually from exclusion criteria at the top of the funnel to award criteria at the bottom.  Details regarding contract selection were also laid out and the differing criteria depending on the cost of the project.

To Conclude, the Breakfast briefing for the Capital Works Management Framework was an intriguing and informative session which would be invaluable to anyone involved in public procurement.

Email education@pai.ie to stay up-to-date on relevant courses and seminars.

 

Jude Perry, Public Affairs Ireland.

18 Jul, 2019

Brexit: Ireland’s up-dated Contingency Action Plan

2019-07-18T09:06:53+01:00July 18th, 2019|News|Comments Off on Brexit: Ireland’s up-dated Contingency Action Plan

The Government has up-dated its Brexit Contingency Action Plan.

https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/eu/brexit/keydocuments/Contingency-Action-Plan-Update.-July-2019.pdf

The Plan runs to over a 100 pages and it reflects the extensive whole-of-Government and EU level work which has already taken place, as well as the additional work that will happen between now and 31 October. In particular the Plan recognises that there is now a significant risk of a no deal Brexit on 31 October.

There is no doubt that the consequences of a no deal Brexit will be profound, including macroeconomic, trade and sectoral challenges. Moreover, the Government Statement points out that a no deal Brexit – “… will also have implications for trade on the island of Ireland, North and South cooperation and will pose risks for the Good Friday Agreement and political stability. It could have lasting societal impacts for Northern Ireland”. https://www.dfa.ie/brexit/getting-ireland-brexit-ready/governmentcontingencyactionplan/

While the Government’s extensive preparedness and contingency efforts will help mitigate the negative effects of Brexit, a no deal Brexit will be highly disruptive. In such a scenario, it will be impossible for the UK to maintain the current seamless arrangements with the EU across the full range of sectors and this will have knock-on consequences for Ireland.

The Plan emphasises the need for stepped up preparedness measures, by exposed businesses in particular, as the end date of 31 October approaches. Citizens and businesses cannot assume that because a no deal Brexit was averted in March and April that the same will happen in October – the need for prudent preparations is more pressing than ever.

Key areas for continued work have to include preparing for Budget 2020, additional infrastructure for ports and airports, and a new phase of the Government’s Brexit communications including an intensified engagement programme by Revenue, focussed on individual businesses and including targeted letters and follow-up phone calls.

One thing is certain – there is no shortage in the range and volume of work to be done.

Tom Ferris is a Consultant Economist specialising in Better Regulation. He lectures on a number of PAI courses and contributes blogs regularly to PAI. He was formerly the Senior Economist at the Department of Transport.

9 Jul, 2019

The Resilience and Wellbeing Springboard; a Guide to Managing Stress 

2019-07-09T16:17:54+01:00July 9th, 2019|News|Comments Off on The Resilience and Wellbeing Springboard; a Guide to Managing Stress 

The Resilience and Wellbeing Springboard; a Guide to Managing Stress

The Resilience and Wellbeing Springboard; a Guide to Managing Stress 

Liz Kearney

I’m always a bit sceptical about quoting statistics and some time ago I came across a very clever comment online that ‘coined’ my thinking. It cited that “64 per cent of statistics are made up”. I often share this with my workshop groups and it never fails to put a grin on their faces. One statistic however that I do think we need to take seriously as I believe it to be very close to reality is this:

50% of the reasons why people go to the doctor are stress related.

Stress can manifest itself in many different ways. Anything from the common cold to chronic pain, not to mention heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many more illnesses can so often be linked to stress in some form or another.  The bad news is that there is now concrete evidence that workplace stress is increasing. Stress when not managed and controlled can be linked to anxiety, depression and eventual burn out. The impact of all of this on the workplace results in unnecessary pressure, hostility, conflict, presentism, poor performance and absenteeism to name just a few.

So what can we do? First of all the good news is that this research is not being ignored and there is already a lot been done.  Many organisations are very aware of the impact of stress and are actively providing support and introducing initiatives to combat these issues. Workplace health information is now widely available to all employees both through internal procedures and the internet.

Whereas this is very positive and reassuring, having spent most of my career in a pressurised financial corporate environment I believe that stress has to be addressed at the source. By this I mean the management of stress, the control of stress and an effort to combat stress has got to start with the individual themselves. This means taking responsibility, gaining some knowledge, understanding implications and culturing a shift in mind-set.  Employees need to become aware of the choices available to them.

The first thing to recognise is that not all stress is bad. Stress is a necessary emotion. Our brains are hardwired in such a way that it is difficult for us to take action until we experience some level of stress. Stress can motivate us and take us out of our comfort zone. In doing so we can create new pathways in our thinking and new patterns in our behaviour thus creating a more positive environment.  On the other end of the scale bad stress even mild bad stress, if left to fester can wreak havoc on our health and wellbeing over time.

Combating stress I believe ultimately comes down to two things:

1) Challenging our perception of stress and

2) Our level of resilience.

We create and cultivate our own stressors and it is only until we become aware of our negative responses are we able to change them and take back control. Learning about our survival technique and what negative stress can physiologically do to our body is the first step required to encourage us to learn how to choose a different response and create new pathways and habits. We have a choice.

Building resilience is a day in day out activity that needs to become a habit. It involves actions and activities that will strengthen the mind the body and the soul. If we make these behaviours part of our everyday we will in time strengthen our protection mechanism, create a more positive outlook, maintain equilibrium and bounce back when challenged with adversity. If we all take some responsibility in making this happen a kinder, more respectful, empathetic workplace will ensue. But this wellness will not just be contained to the workplace it will spill over into our personal lives, our relationships and our overall sense of happiness and wellbeing. It also will hopefully reduce the number of visits to the GP giving everyone more time to live life to the full.

Liz Kearney will speak at PAI’s Corporate Resilience and Wellbeing Springboard on the 24th September. This event is CPD accredited.

Speakers


Liz Kearney is a professional trainer and a qualified business coach specialising in well-being in the workplace. She has worked with many Corporates, The Public Sector and SME’s delivering programmes on Stress, Wellbeing and Resilience and has been an associate trainer with Aware for the last 5 years. She is a Qualified Financial Adviser, an accredited DiSC psychometric practitioner and holds a diploma in Psychology, CBT and Emotional Intelligence.