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6 Nov, 2018

Ireland’s Regulatory Process is showing some improvement, according to the OECD

By |2018-11-07T08:23:08+00:00November 6th, 2018|News|0 Comments

Tom Ferris

The OECD, the Paris based think-tank, has recently published Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018  http://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/oecd-regulatory-policy-outlook-2018-9789264303072-en.htm  This report provides an update on the efforts that different countries are making to improve the quality of their regulatory processes. The OECD report also suggests some innovative approaches to better regulation, while it challenges individual countries to improve the quality of their laws and regulations.

This blog looks at what the OECD has to say about Ireland, it records some improvements in the process since the previous survey while also making some suggestions for change.

Why regulate?

Laws and regulations are needed to govern the everyday life of businesses and citizens. They are important tools of public policy and are used by governments in the pursuit of the public interest. Of course, regulating has never been easy. Indeed, it has become much more difficult with the pace of technological change and unprecedented interconnectedness of economies. Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, described the challenge very well when he said that – “The job of ministries, regulatory agencies and oversight bodies in defining the rules of the game for all is becoming more daunting”.

 Where has Ireland progressed?

The OECD opens its comments by recording that – “Ireland recently made some improvements to its regulatory policy system, particularly in the areas of consultation and ex post evaluation” . There are three strands to these improvements:-

  1. Consultation: The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published new consultation guidelines in 2016 entitled ‘Consultation Principles & Guidance’ https://www.per.gov.ie/en/consultation-guidelines/  They update the 2005 guidelines, following a review of best practice in the field of consultation. They also have regard to the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2014-2016.  In common with many other countries, the new guidelines adopt a principles-based approach to public consultation. The aim is to improve transparency, responsiveness and accessibility of consultations. However, the OECD points out that – “Despite these recent improvements, Ireland’s consultation practices do not yet operate on a systematic basis across government departments”.
  2. Central website: The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has recently launched an easily accessible portal to provide details of all public consultations. This is a very welcome innovation. It is a portal that is accessible on the website Gov.ie https://www.gov.ie/en/consultations/ When the website is fully operational, people will be able to subscribe to the portal and get an email notification of new consultations. They will also be able to share details of a consultation by email and on social media.
  3. Post enactment review of legislation: There was a commitment in the Programme for Government to – “...support mandatory pre-legislative scrutiny for all new bills and post enactment review of legislation by Oireachtas Committees”. Standing Orders for the Dáil and the Seanad  now provide for a process of post-enactment scrutiny. In January 2018, the Oireachtas Library & Research Service published a very informative report on post-enactment scrutiny by Parliament. It provides some further context and analysis and includes a list of post-enactment scrutiny reports laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/publications/?q=spotlight&author%5B%5D=library-research-service  . While this is a welcome development, it will take time to be fully established.

 How good is Ireland’s Regulatory Oversight?

The OECD notes that Ireland continues to conduct mandatory Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs) for all primary laws and major subordinate regulations. But it does point out that in order – “...to more effectively monitor and assess the quality of RIA implementation, Ireland should consider establishing a central oversight body”.

The box below summarises the institutional setup for regulatory oversight in Ireland at present.  There is an implicit criticism in the final sentence, where the OECD states – “However, the implementation of regulatory management tools and oversight of sectoral economic regulators remains the responsibility of the relevant Department(s)”.

 Institutional setup for regulatory oversight in Ireland

Source: OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018, Paris, 2018

 

How well does Ireland perform by comparison with other countries?

Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs) provide useful information to decision makers on whether and how to regulate to achieve public policy goals. The OECD report includes a number of comparisons of how well countries perform their regulatory functions. There is only space to refer to one set of comparisons; that is the one that measures how well countries do in delivering RIAs for primary legislation. The 2018 OECD Report shows that Ireland recorded a mixed performance, when compared with 36 other OECD Member States (excluded aggregate results for the OECD and the European Commission). In the set of comparisons, Ireland achieved an overall score of 53 per cent, which placed it in 16th place out of 37 OECD Member States.

As regards the constituent parts of the survey, Ireland’s performance varied considerably. It performed very well in terms of the systematic application of the methodology in Ireland, with a score of 80 per cent and joint 16th place in the league of 37 OECD Member States. Under RIA methodology, Ireland had a good score of 73 per cent and was in joint 10th place in the league of 37 OECD Member States. As regards transparency, however, Ireland achieved a low score of 41 per cent and 19th place in the league of 37. The lowest score for Ireland was recorded for “oversight”, where the score was only 15 per cent and ranking was 30th place out of 37.

 

  Table A: OECD Survey of RIA Performance, for Primary Legislation, 2014
Aspect Percentage (*) Position (out of 34**)
1. Systematic adoption of Regulatory 80% 16 (***)
Impact Assessment, Primary laws
2. Methodology of Regulatory Impact 73% 10 (***)
Assessment, Primary law
3. Transparency of Regulatory Impact 41% 19
Assessment, Primary law
4. Oversight of Regulatory Impact 15% 30
Assessment, Primary law
5. Aggregate score for Regulatory
Impact Assessment, Primary laws 53% 16
* Categories 1 through 4 were scored out
  of 'one', and Category 5 was scored out of 'four'.
**Survey based on 37 Member States (excluding OECD and European Commission

 

*** Joint position.

Source: OECD, Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018, Paris

 

Could more improvements be made? 

The OECD report provides a very useful check on how different countries perform on the regulatory front. In the case of Ireland, the OECD acknowledges the areas where progress has been made. But it also points out where improvements are still necessary. In particular it recommends that, Ireland should consider establishing a central oversight body for regulation. That would allow more effective monitoring and assessment of the quality of RIA implementation.

Tom Ferris

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

1 Nov, 2018

Sectorial Update: October Writing Skills for the public sector at PAI

By |2018-11-07T08:23:12+00:00November 1st, 2018|News|0 Comments

No matter what your position is in the Public Sector knowing how to write well will always be advantageous. This October PAI hosted a variety of seminars and workshops, which covered a range of different writing competencies, all of particular relevance to Public Sector professionals. Whether you are writing a report, drafting work documents or pulling together marketing material, improving your writing skills will have a positive effect on the work you produce. Our writing skills seminars provide delegates with the opportunity to learn new methods to simplify the writing process, practise new strategies for more effective writing and receive guidance on finessing their writing style. PAI will continue to hold writing skills workshops throughout 2018, with some topical events in this area planned for 2019 also. For example, this month PAI ran courses in:

Report Writing: 8 October

While writing a report is part and parcel of office life, if you are unfamiliar with the process it can seem like quite a daunting task, particularly if you are in a new position. Even if you have been compiling reports for a significant period of your career, it is always worth while to take the time to fine tune your skills and look at your writing approach from a new angle. PAI’s Report writing seminar provided attendees with essential report writing skills and gave them practical guidance on how to prepare reports that are structured, effective and clearly understandable.

What our delegates thought:

Informative in a relaxed setting. Very good practical worksheets” Anne, NSAI

For information on 2019 dates for report writing click here

Writing for the Web: 9 October

Perfecting your website is more important than ever! If you are tasked with managing your organisations online content, PAI’s Writing for the Web seminar gives you the essential tips and tricks that you need to make sure your website is working successfully, and is accessible for readers and clients.

For future dates click here

Proofreading: 17 October

Chances are that within your role your work is proofread, or that from time to time you proofread your colleagues’ work as well. Proofreading is highly important as there are plenty of things that spellcheck just doesn’t pick up on! This course provided attendees with a refresher on the grammatical and spelling problems that we all make and guidance on proofreading best practice. By acquiring proofreading skills you can ensure that your organisation's written content is of the highest professional standard.

For tips on Proofreading you can read our  trainer Sarah Marriott’s Blog piece on Proofreading by clicking here

Minute Taking:  23 October

Have your ever been tasked with taking minutes at a meeting but found you didn’t quite capture all of the essential information? PAI’s minute taking workshop gives delegates the opportunity to improve and strengthen their minute taking skills to ensure that they are employing the best methods to successfully record every meeting they attend.

What our delegates thought:

Clear, concise, targeting everyone’s issues. Lovely trainer who listened and was helpfulKatrina, Convention Centre Dublin

If you are interested in Writing Skills you may also be interested in our Editing Skills workshop.

Taking place on 5 December, our Editing Skills Workshop will provide attendees with the editing skills they need to ensure their organisations written material is highly professional and error free.

Click here for more information about this seminar

To keep informed on all of our upcoming training, you can join our mailing list by emailing info@pai.ie

24 Oct, 2018

eInvoicing Update – Just Under 6 Months and Counting!

By |2018-11-07T08:23:15+00:00October 24th, 2018|News|0 Comments

Declan McCormack

Planning is key to eInvoicing readiness for April 2019/April2020

With less than six months to go to the 18 April, 2019 deadline, by which central Government public bodies need to be able to accept and process eInvoices in accordance with the European Directive and national eInvoicing approach, eInvoicing is now at the centre of digital transformation in public procurement across Europe. This article provides an update on recent developments.

 

The eInvoicing Ireland programme has been working with the Office of Government Procurement and public sector partners to put in place an eInvoicing Framework from which public bodies will be able to access the services and solutions needed to be compliant with the European Directive 2014/55/EU on eInvoicing, (‘eInvoicing Directive’) and the national eInvoicing approach. This comprehensive Framework aims to;

 

  1. Meet the eInvoicing requirements of the public sector, from shared services and co-ordinating body facilities[1], to individual public bodies and
  2. Cater for those looking to achieve basic compliance as well as those looking for more integrated solutions to realise longer term benefits.

 

The Framework has therefore been designed with multiple lots, in order to address the differing needs of the respective shared service/ co-ordinating body facilities as well as individual public bodies. Currently in its final stages of review, the Framework is scheduled to be available in early 2019 and has been designed to minimise timeframes for central contracting authorities and contracting entities accessing the services needed to be complaint by April 2019.

 

It is intended that the transposition of the eInvoicing Directive into Irish legislation, expected in advance of the April 2019, will include an option for sub-central contracting authorities and contracting entities to postpone the compliance deadline until April 2020. It is a matter for individual public bodies to determine whether the central or sub-central deadline applies to them, in regard to the eInvoicing Directive.

 

In advance of the Framework it is crucial for public bodies to plan for compliance and to look into reaping the wider eInvoicing benefits. Public bodies should start analysing their existing invoice processing environment, to be ready to draw down the relevant services and solutions when the time comes. eInvoicing Ireland has produced a worksheet as a prompt for public bodies to start considering some of these questions.

 

The eInvoicing Directive has created a real stimulus for suppliers and buyers in public procurement across Europe to move forward together and improve how businesses transact with the public sector in Ireland and Europe.

For further information please contact:

The eInvoicing Ireland team at eInvoicing@ogp.gov.ie

[1] A co-ordinating body facility refers to a set of managed administrative and/ or IT services for invoice processing that are co-ordinated at a commercial and/ or operational level by a particular body on behalf of a group of bodies, typically within a common segment of the public sector (e.g. The LGMA provides co-ordinating body facilities in relation to local and regional authorities). 

Declan McCormack, eInvoicing Ireland Programme Manager

Declan has responsibility at Principal level for the Office of Government Procurement’s eInvoicing programme. Prior to his appointment, he held the position of Head of IT with one of Ireland’s leading e-Procurement service providers and has over 20 years’ experience in technology development, delivery and management within the telecoms, financial and IT sectors, and was actively involved in the development and implementation of PEPPOL infrastructure.

Declan McCormack will be speaking at PAI's Annual Procurement Conference, taking place on 22 November for more information on this event click here 

15 Oct, 2018

The Data Sharing and Governance Bill #2

By |2018-11-16T15:03:01+00:00October 15th, 2018|News|0 Comments

Dr Dennis Jennings

In the first of these blogs, I highlighted what seemed to me to be two of the major omissions in The Data Sharing and Governance Bill, as published:  The lack of a clear and unambiguous statement of what is meant by Data Sharing, and how it will, in principle, be implemented; and a preliminarily section providing the Statement of Principles that guide and underlie the Bill.

In this blog I’d like to highlight two further critically important elements that seem to me to be missing from the Bill:

The first is the Authorisation of public sector individuals to empower them to access elements of the personal data stored by the Public Sector. I presume that not every employee (whether full time, part time, or temporary), and not every contractor, will have access to all the data stored! What are the principles and rules that guide these authorisations:  authorisation by individual; by function/role; by seniority; by specific tasks; etc.? It seems to me self-evident that authorisation at the data element, or specific data related query level, is required, and that these authorisations must be carefully created, managed, maintained, and revoked when required.

The second is the Authentication of the public sector individuals and their assigned authorisation. Each and every access to personal data elements by public sector individuals must be authenticated. What identity management system will be used to reliably and securely identify each individual? I presume that some public sector staff services identifier will be used, and secured with a pin, and biometrically, and with multi-factor authentication (I consider typical on-line e-mail/password systems to be inadequate).

I certainly do not want unauthorised, unauthenticated individuals accessing my personal data, or accessing or querying any element of my data that they are not specifically authorised to access.

I don’t expect the Bill to specify the authorisation and authentication systems that will be used, but I do expect that the Bill would categorically state that there will be personal public sector identities and authorisation and authentication management systems, and would provide guidelines, and would state how these systems will be governed, and overseen in practice. Without these, the Bill is dangerously flawed.

Whatever identifier system is used for the 300,000 plus public sector employees, it is also self-evident to me that these identities must also be valid to access their own personal data through the planned Public Services Portal. Having multiple identity systems makes no sense to me.

I look forward to discussing these thoughts further at the Public Affairs Ireland Seminar on the recently published Data Sharing and Governance Bill that will take place on Thursday 29 November. For more information on this event click here

  

Dr Dennis Jennings   

Internet Pioneer, Internet Hall of Fame 2014

Company Director / Mentor & Coach / Angel Investor

Chairman and/or non-executive director of a small number of Irish technology-based companies that address international markets. Member of the Open Data Governance Board of the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform. Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Served (2007-10) on the Board of Directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN, ICANN.org), which is responsible for the coordination of the technical identifiers of the global Internet.

12 Oct, 2018

Business Writing Skills

By |2018-11-07T08:23:20+00:00October 12th, 2018|News|0 Comments

Sarah Marriott

Two top tips for effective business writing – Think about the why and the who!

Effective writing can be a vital tool for communication, both inside and outside an organisation. Too often, though, communications are unclear and unfocused – and so fail to fulfil their potential.

Successful writing involves planning – no matter what you’re writing. Before you start, it’s vital to consider two things: your objectives and your audience.

Tip 1 – Define your objectives

Why are you writing? What is the main aim? You probably want to inform – but what else do you want to do? Do you also want to persuade? Influence attitudes or behaviour? Make a proposal? Explain, justify or clarify? Request action or information?

Whatever you’re writing, decide what you’re setting out to achieve.

It’ll help to focus your mind on specific objectives instead of writing to simply set out information. It will also give you a benchmark when you come to reviewing, so you can assess if you’ve accomplished what you set out to.

Tip 2 – Identify your target audiences

Who are you writing for? How many different groups of readers do you have? You need to  plan and write with your specific readers in mind.

You then need to adapt your writing style, content, structure and language (and even layout) to ensure your document will meet readers’ needs and help you to achieve your objectives.

For example, IT experts reading a business case for purchasing new software would expect technical specs, jargon, tables and highly detailed information. So that’s what goes into the report.

But if you’re writing for a wide readership, different groups of readers might have varying needs, concerns and levels of understanding.

For instance, safety guidelines for train drivers might be read by drivers, managers, HR, regulatory bodies, trades unions and the media. An effective approach is to identify the most important group of readers and to write for them. In this case, if drivers are your primary audience, you could create an easy-to-read version with lots of visuals or infographics. The other target readers will also be able to use this – with the added benefit that they can see how clearly information is being provided to train drivers.

And . . .

At the reviewing stage, go back to your objectives and target audiences. Check that what you have written will actually achieve its objectives and reach its target audiences!

On Tuesday 13 of November, Sarah Marriott will lead PAI's seminar on Business Writing Skills, click here for more information

Sarah Marriott is a highly experienced trainer and former journalist who specialises in delivering Writing Skills courses for the public and private sectors.

Sarah has worked as a feature writer and sub-editor at The Irish Times. She has also been involved in training Irish Times editorial staff. She is a former lecturer on the MA in Journalism at Dublin Institute of Technology and is the author of Common Errors in Written English.

9 Oct, 2018

The role of the Procurement Team in e-invoice adoption

By |2018-11-07T08:23:23+00:00October 9th, 2018|News|0 Comments

John Larkin

The implementation of Directive 2014/55/EU on e-invoicing in public procurement creates an obligation on all public sector bodies to be able to receive and process invoices electronically.

The implementation of this directive should not be seen as an end in itself, but an opportunity to streamline AP processes and deliver cost savings and efficiencies in public procurement.

Following compliance, many European public sector bodies have moved to e-invoice adoption and have begun a digital transformation journey to realise the full benefits promised by the directive.

It is important to note that the Procurement team plays a vital role in all stages of an e-invoice implementation project and will hugely influence the take up and time frame for the project.

WHERE DO I START?

Fail to prepare … prepare to fail. Do your homework! Below are some important milestones on the journey to e-invoice adoption:

  1. Firstly, you need to examine the appropriateness of an e-invoicing policy for your organisation and review it in the context of your current business and ICT strategy.
  2. Next, determine the quantity of invoices and the number of suppliers involved and the ability of your current ERP system to handle e-invoices.
  3. How much does it actually cost your organisation to process invoices? The cost can range from €5 to €17 per invoice depending on your sector. Consider how many hours are lost manually entering data in your finance system, seeking payment approvals and chasing missing invoices.
  4. Having carried out an initial review, a business case should then be prepared. Closely examine the likely costs and benefits to the organisation and include a full description of the current paper-based process and identify current processes that can be either improved, outsourced or eliminated.
  5. Choose a pro-active project leader and cross-functional team to prepare a detailed project plan. The team should be made up of executives from Procurement, Finance, IT and Accounts Payable.
  6. The project plan should contain an analysis of the current business processes and environment. Based on this analysis an implementation plan can be outlined.
  7. Based on the analysis carried out on the company’s abilities and needs, a number of solution scenarios will evolve and whether to take a step-by-step or Big Bang approach to implementation.

SUCCESS FACTORS IN E-INVOICE PROJECTS

Awareness and buy-in by senior management is essential to reach the goals set up in the e-invoicing policy, together with one very active project owner and roll-out champion.

Good internal and external communication to people affected is another critical factor for the project to succeed. It is also important to be realistic regarding the mid and long-term technical capabilities of the organisation, including workflow and archiving.

“Fail to prepare … prepare to fail. Do your homework!”

John Larkin is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and The Chartered Association of Certified Accounts and is currently Country Manager, Pagero Ireland. John has considerable experience in leading business transformation projects and has seen, at first hand, how successful e-invoice projects have delivered real benefits to various sized organizations. He will outline how an organisation should approach e-invoice adoption and the important role procurement professionals have in delivering the benefits of the EU Directive on e-invoicing in public procurement.

5 Oct, 2018

September Legal, Regulatory and Public Policy Update

By |2018-11-07T08:23:26+00:00October 5th, 2018|News|0 Comments

Public Affairs Ireland host a range of courses designed for legal and Public Sector professionals. We are committed to keeping those with regulatory responsibilities up to date on legislative changes, so that they can effectively deliver their services to the Public. This month PAI  hosted a variety of legal events which included ….

Certificate in Corporate Governance: 

On the 10 and 11 September, PAI hosted a certificate course in Corporate Governance. This course provided professionals with a refresher on developments in Corporate Governance and how the principles of it can be applied to Public Sector organisations. The course was well received by our participants:

Fantastic, a must do for people working in Corporate GovernanceSharon, Department of Housing

GDPR Essentials:

As GDPR is now fully underway, it is more important than ever that everyone within the Public Sector has a strong understanding of what these regulations require. PAI’s three-day course in GDPR essentials introduces attendees to the core concepts, principles and key requirements of GDPR. We have decided to run our course over a three-day period to allow for a more interactive approach, providing time for group exercises, discussion of case studies and the development of practical skills.

Do you need a deeper understanding of GDPR? Join PAI this November for our GDPR Advanced course.

Level 2: GDPR Advanced

GDPR & the Data Protection Directive For Law Enforcement Bodies:  

While having an understanding of GDPR is an essential tool for all professionals, it is particularly important for Law Enforcement Bodies. As we all know, non-compliance with GDPR is penalised, meaning Law Enforcement Bodies need to be updated with these rules and regulations. Samples of organisations that this course is suitable for include:

  • An Garda Siochana
  • The Defence Forces
  • Revenue Commissioners (investigations section)
  • Department of Social Protection (Investigations section)
  • Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Local Authorities (litter wardens, planning enforcement etc.)
  • Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement
  • The Data Protection Commission

Certificate in Policy Development, Legislative Drafting and Delivery:

Policy Development is an essential Public Sector Skill. This course provided participants with knowledge in the areas of policy development, legislative drafting and legislative processing. Most importantly delegates gained skills to draw up effective and accessible legislation.

For future dates click here

CPD Conference 2018: CPD Compliance for Public Sector Professionals: 28 September 

PAI were delighted to host the first in our series of CPD compliance conferences on Friday 28 of September. This half day event took place at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, providing participants with the chance to network over coffee and lunch while also earning 3 CPD points in areas of direct relevance to Public Sector professionals. The event was chaired by PAI Director Garrett Fennell and speakers included Claire Hogan BL, Sile O'Donnell FCIPD and William Maher BL. The lecture topics included GDPR, managing HR investigations and Protected Disclosures, sparking engaging discussions during Q&A time.

To follow on from this event, PAI will host the second in our series of CPD compliance conferences with a full day event taking place on Thursday 6 December.

PAI's December CPD Conference

 

5 Oct, 2018

CPD Conference Series 2018: Ensuring CPD Compliance for Legal Professionals in the Public Sector

By |2018-11-07T08:23:30+00:00October 5th, 2018|News|0 Comments

On Friday, 28 September 2018, Public Affairs Ireland hosted the first conference in our new series of CPD Compliance events. PAI welcomed delegates to the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Dublin 8, serving coffee and pastries on arrival.  This series of compliance conferences have been specially tailored towards the continuous professional development needs of legal professionals, in particular those that hold a position within the Public Sector. While the conference topics were taken from a legal angle, the matters discussed were equally relevant for all Public Sector professionals.

PAI’s Director, Garrett Fennell, chaired the event, opening the conference by informing delegates of the importance of continuous professional development while also detailing the relevancy and pertinence of the subject matters chosen for our introductory conference. PAI have designed our new CPD compliance series with the aim of providing legal professionals the opportunity to receive CPD hours that directly relate to their roles within their industry.

Over the years, more and more emphasis has been placed on the necessity of continuous professional development within the legal profession. By ensuring that all legal professionals fulfil the mandatory allocation of CPD hours that are required of their role this allows them to effectively deliver their services to the Public. It is now compulsory that solicitors obtain 20 CPD hours per year so we have designed our September and December compliance conferences to give attendees 10 CPD hours in total, allowing professionals to meet half that requirement.

General Data Protection Regulation; Legal grounds for processing, expanded rights and obligations and the accountability principle- Claire Hogan BL

Claire Hogan BL, commenced the conference with a discussion on the General Data Protection Regulation, clarifying and examining what this new framework of regulations will entail for all professionals. While GDPR has already come into effect, it is still an important topic of interest among those working in Public Bodies. Claire’s informative lecture provided our attendees with a focused and specific outline on how to process data in a GDPR compliant manner.

The key points of this session focused on:

  • The data controller vs the data processor
  • New grounds for penalisation under GDPR
  • Core data protection principles

As our delegates by and large hold positions within Public Sector bodies, knowing the correct and lawful way to handle the Public’s personal data is highly important. Claire described how resulting from GDPR there are now two types of employees that are responsible for handling data: the data controller and the data processor. Both roles have different obligations yet are equally responsible when it comes to data protection. The data controller oversees all aspects of data compliance, even when this responsibility is also delegated to a data processor. The data processor acts only under the controller yet must claim full responsibility if they do not comply with the processor’s instructions. By laying out these clear distinctions, our attendees were able to review their data protection responsibilities within their organisations and know what is expected of their position.

With the advent of GDPR, it is not only the new stricter methods of data protection that have become important, but also the revised grounds for penalisation and the core concepts which underpin this. While there has been increased monetary sanctions, perhaps one of the most significant changes of the regulations is that now it is legal to sue for non-material damage; that’s to say the pain and anxiety caused by a data breach. Overall, GDPR is rooted in the following core concepts; transparency, purpose limitation, data minimisation, accuracy, storage limitation, confidentiality and accountability. These core concepts are the fundamental regulations which will allow for a new era of increased data security and rights. Clearly GDPR is having an impact as merely two months after the introduction of these regulations 1,100 data breaches were received by the Data Protection Commission according to The Irish Times.

Managing HR complaints and investigations using best practice procedures (including mediation)Sile O’Donnell FCIPD

Sile O’Donnell led the Management and Professional Development based discussion of our CPD Conference. Focusing on HR investigations and the role of mediation, Sile’s lecture provided the conference delegates with an excellent overview on these vitally important workplace issues. HR investigations are implemented in order to both research into workplace conflict and employee behaviour with the intention of coming to a complete understanding of the issues that are at hand. HR investigations can arise for a number of different reasons within the workplace. One key area in which there is a legal basis for pursuing an investigation is the area of dignity at work, of which harassment, sexual harassment and bullying are all offences.

To allow workplace investigations and mediation to be carried out successfully there must be certain protocols that are adhered to. Sile advised that in order for mediation to be effective the following steps should be actioned/taken into consideration:

  • Note taking/Transcripts
  • Know the purpose of the investigation
  • Have a time scale
  • Know that conclusions will be based on the balance of probabilities

Lastly, while legal professionals play an important part in workplace mediation and investigations, Sile highlighted the importance of having heart to heart and face to face discussions with colleagues when problems and conflicts start to arise.

Protected Disclosures; Emerging legal issues concerning Protected Disclosures and public sector organisations - William Maher BL

William Maher BL delivered the final lecture of the morning’s conference which examined Protected Disclosures in relation to the Public Sector. William’s presentation provided our delegates with a clear and definite explanation of what a protected disclosure is and under what circumstances these claims can be made. Protected Disclosures are a vital part of maintaining a workplace that is fair and respects the dignity of its employees while also adhering to workplace regulations. A protected disclosure can be understood as the disclosure of information by the worker of a relevant wrong doing in connection with their employer in a manner that is included in the protected disclosures Act 2014. In discussing Protected disclosures perhaps, the most important concept is discerning which offences qualify as a relevant wrong doing, some samples include:

  • The Commission of a Criminal Offence
  • Harming the health and safety of an Individual
  • Improperly using public funds or resources
  • Miscarriages of Justice

William’s lecture provided a clear and definitive grounding on the subject of protected disclosures which included excellent case studies and contextual examples.

PAI’s CPD conference provided our delegates with an overview of GDPR, managing HR investigations/mediation and Protected Disclosures delivered by our panel of experts in these fields.

 

December Conference

To follow on from this event PAI’s full day CPD conference will take place on Thursday 6 December and will account for 7 CPD Points.  For more information on this event click here

 

 

1 Oct, 2018

September Personal and Interpersonal Effectiveness Update

By |2018-11-07T08:23:32+00:00October 1st, 2018|News|0 Comments

Throughout September Public Affairs Ireland ran a number of courses designed to allow our clients to develop both professionally and personally. September is the ideal time to up-skill and advance in your career and PAI’s events provided attendees with the perfect opportunity to do so! Whether you need to learn new key skills to progress in your role or whether you want a motivational boost, PAI’s range of Personal and Interpersonal Effectiveness courses will have something for you. For example, this month PAI ran the following courses …

Cores Skills for Executive Officers: 12/9/18

This course took place on Wednesday 12 September and was led by Sile O’Donnell. It provided Executive Officers with a chance to examine the requirements of their role within their organisation, focusing on people management and the delivery of results. While this course related directly to professionals at an EO level, PAI also run Core Skills courses for Public Servants at HEO and CO levels.

Upcoming Core Skills Courses:

Core Skills for CO's (Grade 3) 

Core Skills for HEO's (Grade 7)

The Stress and Conflict Management Programme: 11/9/18 & 12/9/18

Workplace wellness is a topic of discussion which is cropping up more and more. With a growing focus on the importance of work life balance and the negative effects of stress, this course, which was led by Liz Kearney, provided attendees with practical guidance on managing stress and conflict within the workplace. This course ensured that attendees walked away feeling well equipped with new techniques to prosper both professionally and personally.

Do you want to hear more about our Well-Being courses? You can sign up to PAI's update list by emailing education@pai.ie.

One-to-One Interview Training 12/9/18

PAI's One-to-One Interview training sessions are run by Tina Kinirons, a business psychologist with experience training interviewees and interviewers in the Public Sector. This unique training experience provides participants with one on one attention for a one or two hour period. Participants gain the skills to handle anything and everything that can arise during the interview prep stage and during the actual interview. Most importantly participants get industry relevant advice, enabling them to take a new career path or move up the career ladder.

You can read Tina's Interview Tip and advice here

Interview Panel Training 19/9/18

While attending an interview is a daunting task, chairing an interview panel is an important role that should be taken seriously. This training session was also led by Tina Kinirons, providing our participants with the necessary skills to be effective and fair interviewers and find the best talent for their organisation. Due to increased demand PAI have scheduled another Interview Panel Training session, you can click here for more information on this event.

HR Management 20/9/18, 21/9/18, 27/9/18

PAI are dedicated to running courses which create more productive workplaces. To establish an efficient workforce a strategic HR Management plan is necessary. PAI's HR management courses provides HR professionals with important knowledge and new skills in the areas of updated HR policies, changes in employment law, planning, employee engagement and well being.

Project Management 25/9/18- 26/9/18

At some stage in every professionals career, the need will arise to manage a project. Being a project manager is a great responsibility and an opportunity to take on a new challenge and push yourself professionally. PAI's project management course provides our attendees with new skills that help them to deliver their projects successfully ... and not forgetting to deliver the project on time!

Upcoming Personal and Interpersonal Effectiveness Training :

Report Writing 8 October

Writing for the Web 9 October 

One-to-One Interview Skills 10 October

Proofreading Made Easy 17 October

Minute-Taking Made Easy 23 October

Dealing with Difficult Customers 24 October 

1 Oct, 2018

Public Consultation: The need to reach out

By |2018-11-07T08:23:35+00:00October 1st, 2018|News|0 Comments

Tom Ferris


A commitment on the final page of the Programme for Government to – “... establish an easily accessible portal to provide details of all... public consultations” has now been met with the launching of the Public Consultations Portal. That portal is accessible on the website Gov.ie https://www.gov.ie/en/consultations/.

Public consultations provide an important opportunity for the public to input directly into matters which affect them and their communities. Up to now there was no single mechanism by which individuals could access information on consultations in the public arena. This has now been rectified with the advent of the new portal.

When the website is fully operational, people will be able to subscribe to the portal and get an email notification of new consultations. They will also be able to share details of a consultation by email and on social media.

 

Why have a Portal?

In today’s world, people want to be able to access information easily and quickly. The new consultation portal has been set-up to provide details of all public consultations in one centre. At its launch, Minister of State, Patrick O’Donovan T.D., said – “The launch of the Public Consultations Portal on Gov.ie, will allow people to easily find and share invitations to contribute to decision making that affects them. The launch of this... is a key step to improving our methods of digital engagement.  Digital engagement will be a key tool in the future to meet people’s expectations of more immediate and responsive engagement and in turn, better policies and services”. https://www.per.gov.ie/en/?s=public+consultation&submit=+

 

Why consult?

In the past, governments typically developed their policies cloaked in secrecy. The only consultation that really mattered took place on Election Day. That has changed radically during the past fifteen years. As a matter of course, governments now seek the views of those outside the decision-making process in order to better inform that process. Consultation is not intended to be a substitute for decision-making. Rather it reflects the fact that the decision-making process benefits from having the widest range of views and fullest information on a particular issue.  Back in 2005, the Department of the Taoiseach produced a very useful set of guidelines on consultation, entitled ‘Reaching Out’ https://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/Consult_english.pdf . The following quotation demonstrates the main reasons for engaging in consultation:

Consultation supports greater transparency, which is an important principle of good governance. It helps to ensure that the operations of Government and bodies throughout the Public Sector are conducted with greater clarity and openness. It recognises that public policy-making can be enhanced through the active involvement and contribution of all stakeholders with an interest in particular policy developments. By ensuring that interested parties can express their views about a particular proposal, the decision-making process becomes better informed, more rigorous and more accountable

 Source: Department of the Taoiseach, ‘Reaching Out: Guidelines on Consultation for Public Sector Bodies’, 2005

What are the latest Guidelines?

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published new consultation guidelines in 2016 entitled ‘Consultation Principles & Guidance’ https://www.per.gov.ie/en/consultation-guidelines/  They update the 2005 guidelines, following a review of best practice in the field of consultation. They also have regard to the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2014-2016.  In common with many other countries, the new guidelines adopt a principles-based approach to public consultation. The aim is to improve transparency, responsiveness and accessibility of consultations.

The Guidance promotes three principles, which aim to improve the way the public sector consults, with an emphasis on real, meaningful, and targeted engagement.

Three Consultation Principles

“...consultation with the public must be genuine, meaningful, timely, balanced and with the ultimate objective of leading to better outcomes and greater understanding by all involved of the benefits and consequences of proceeding with particular policy or legislation proposals...”.

“... consultation should be targeted at and easily accessible to those with a clear interest in the policy in question...”.

“...Government departments and agencies should make systematic efforts to ensure that interested and affected parties have the opportunity to take part in open consultations at all stages of the policy process on significant policy, services and legislative matters: development, implementation, evaluation, and review...”.

Source: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, ‘Consultation Principles and Guidance’, November 2016

Is more needed?

Up-to-date guidelines and now a central portal certainly help improve the process of public consultation.  But does more need to be done? For example, should public consultation be mandatory? The current guidelines from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform do not have legal force. Neither do the guidelines – “...prevail over statutory or mandatory requirements to consult certain groups on certain issues”. However, the current guidelines do suggest the development of a legislative footprint. Specifically the guidelines state that -  “Provision of such a footprint in relation to legislative proposals is a requirement under the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan...it is proposed that at each of the main milestones during the preparation of legislation...summary information would be published on such issues as meetings held with stakeholders/representative bodies, submissions received and identifying any substantive changes that may have been made in the policy approach”.  https://www.per.gov.ie/en/consultation-guidelines/

The public needs to be vigilant when it comes to public consultation. They need to keep a close eye on what is being proposed and closing time/dates for submissions. There is no point in spending time responding to consultation if it is evident that the decision has already been taken. Neither is there any point in responding if there is evidence that those in charge are unlikely to be open to influence or change in their plans. It is important that participants in a consultation process are given clear guidance on what exactly they are being asked to comment on, and how their information will be considered.  Every proposal going to public consultation should be explained in sufficient detail so that those being consulted can give meaningful responses. The effectiveness of any consultation process will be determined by the clarity of the description of what is being covered and the exactness of the guidance on how feedback and input will be considered by those undertaking the consultation.

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.