6 Dec, 2018

November Sectorial Review: Updates Series at PAI

By |2018-12-06T16:12:14+00:00December 6th, 2018|News|0 Comments

Public Affairs Ireland have an ethos of life long learning. The training that we provide focuses in particular on the needs of the public sector. It is highly important that public sector professionals keep informed on legislative changes. The constantly changing nature of legislation and regulations  is something which our clientele must follow while working in the public sector. To address this, Public Affairs Ireland host once-off sessions on legislative updates. PAI cover a range of different topics in their update series, ensuring that no matter what your position within the public sector or what area of legislation interests you, they will be a seminar that meets your needs. The two update seminars that took place at PAI this November were based on two particularly topical issues; data protection and digitization, and gender equality.

Update Series: Gender Equality in Ireland: A Progress Report on the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2017

On Friday 23rd of November, PAI hosted an update seminar on The Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill 2017. This update seminar was led by Sharon Dillon-Lyons BL. Sharon discussed what the introduction of this Bill will mean for companies and organisations. The Bill will ensure that organisations of a certain size will be obliged to publish information on their male and female employees salaries. This bill is a positive step towards closing up the gender pay gap in Ireland, which currently exists at roughly 14%.

You read this Bill by clicking here 

Update Series: The Data Sharing and Governance Bill 2018

On Thursday 29th of November Dr Dennis Jennings and Dr Katherine O’Keefe led an update seminar on the Data Sharing and Governance Bill 2018. This bill has been introduced in order to allow for the sharing of data between public bodies. The speakers discussed the bill, detailing the main components while also examining and critiquing the possible consequences of this bill. With GDPR having come into effect in May 2018, public sector bodies must be more aware than ever of how they use the public's data and what regulations surround this.

If you would like to find out more on the subject matter you can do so by reading Dr Dennis Jennings articles on the subject:

The Data Sharing and Governance Bill

The Data Sharing and Governance Bill #2

You can keep posted on PAI's upcoming 2019 Update Seminars by joining our mailing list on our website.

27 Nov, 2018

PAI’s Annual Public Procurement Conference Report

By |2018-11-27T12:45:17+00:00November 27th, 2018|News|0 Comments

On Thursday 22 November, Public Affairs Ireland welcomed delegates to the O’Callaghan Davenport Hotel for our Annual Public Procurement Conference. PAI are committed to delivering specialist learning and development training to the public sector; our conferences provide our clientele with a forum for receiving updates and developments on industry relevant subjects from expert speakers. Our Annual Public Procurement Conferences are always a popular event, attracting a range of delegates from across the public sector.

Patrick McGovern, an independent procurement consultant chaired the event which featured lectures from a host of speakers from a variety of professional backgrounds. Our panel discussed public procurement from many different perspectives; providing delegates with a broad and informative overview of topical public procurement issues.

Minister Patrick O’Donovan TD gave a key note address:  

To commence our conference PAI were delighted to welcome Minister Patrick O’Donovan TD., Minister of State for the Department of Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment. The Ministers speech provided our audience with an excellent overview on public procurement policy. Minster Patrick O’Donovan focussed on the key issues which concern public procurement and the state. In particular, he discussed the importance of supporting SME’s and taking social considerations into account. The Minister examined the importance of taking the following factors into consideration: the environment, people with disabilities, the youth of the country and placing an emphasis on urban renewal. Overall the Minister shared his support for the introduction of E-Procurement and working closely alongside the EU in terms of public procurement.


Niamh Hyland: Developments in Public Procurement Litigation for 2018

Moving on from public procurement policy, our second speaker of the morning Niamh Hyland, Senior Counsel, looked at public procurement from a litigation standpoint. Niamh Hyland pinpointed the key issues and legal cases that have occurred in 2018 in terms of public procurement. Through the use of several case studies, Niamh Hyland demonstrated the value of recording and retaining public procurement documents to uphold the legal requirement of transparency. To illustrate this point Niamh took the example of the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust vs Lancashire County Council [2018] EWHC1589. This trial demonstrated that while it is not necessary to provide every detail of a procurement process there must be enough detail to provide the rationale for a consensus score. If the contracting authority of a procurement process is unable to explain the awarded scores, then they will not succeed in meeting the most basic of transparency obligations. Through explaining this legal case among others, Niamh effectively brought to light the importance of documenting every procurement process to ensure that transparency is upheld.

Thomas Spoorsman: Pubic Procurement Directives, Next Steps for the European Commission

Our next speaker, Thomas Spoorsman (Deputy Head of Unit, responsible for Public Procurement Strategy, European perspective) provided an insight on public procurement from a European perspective. As the Minster stated in his speech it is in Ireland’s best interests to work alongside Europe to ensure the effectiveness of our public procurement strategy. Thomas Spoorsman provided a practical and informative list of six key priority areas to be taken into consideration for improving public procurement in process.

The list included:

  • Wider uptake of strategic procurement
  • Professionalising public buyers
  • Increase access to procurement markers
  • Improving transparency, integrity and data
  • Boosting the digital transformation of Public Procurement
  • Cooperating to Procure together

As well as highlighting these key considerations for the improvement of public procurement in action, the speaker also explained the importance of a voluntary ex-ante assessment mechanism for the European Union. The implementation of this mechanism would serve as an exchange of information to ensure that all major public procurement projects are in line with EU regulations. The voluntary ex-ante assessment mechanism would principally apply to the sectors of transport, energy, non-residential construction and ICT.

Declan McCormack: The Irish approach to eInvoicing Compliance: An Update from eInvoicing Ireland 

Our next speaker, Declan McCormack who is the Programme Manager at eInvoicing Ireland at the Office of Government Procurement delved into one of the key public procurement developments that is currently taking place. His discussion concentrated on the approaching implementation of E-Invoices for the procurement process. By April 2019 all procurement invoices must be in digital format. Declan discussed the reasons and benefits of this digitalization process. To explain this changeover Declan provided a definition of an e-invoice:

An Invoice that has been issued, transmitted and received in a structured electronic format which allows for its automatic and electronic processing” European Directive 2014/55/EU.

Mr McCormack made it clear that this transformation will have a positive impact, with benefits including decreased costs and administrative work, increased data accuracy and transparency and, it will be sounder environmentally.  Mr McCormack discussed how the next step for eInvoice preparation will include looking at the role of the suppliers and service providers to ensure that the switch is implemented and understood along every step of the procurement process. This discussion demonstrated the positive steps forward that this digital implementation project will entail for public procurement at a national and international level.

The following quote which was included in Declan’s presentation accurately encapsulates the positive step forward that e-invoicing will give rise to:

Switching to e-procurement, and particularly to e-invoicing, can bring significant savings and make life easier both for governments and for thousands of businesses active in the Internal Market

Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services (June 2013)

Doug McMahon:  GDPR & Public Procurement – Impacts for Commercial Contracts and the Procurement Process

Following a break for coffee and refreshments, Doug McMahon, a Senior Associate in the Technology and Innovation Group at the McCann Fitzgerald Group presented on public procurement in relation to GDPR. Since the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulations in May 2018, every public sector organisation and business must understand and be complaint with these regulations. Doug McMahon’s presentation examined GDPR and its connection with public procurement in relation to two specific areas that these regulations impact: the tender process and commercial contracts. GDPR outlines specific terms on want data can be handled by whom and for how long. In terms of a tender process there are several types of personal data which must be processed; one example that Doug drew attention to was CV’s. As GDPR has been a major legislative change within this past year, Doug McMahon’s talk was pertinent and provided clarity on this topic.

John Larkin: The role of the procurement team in the effective implementation of e-invoicing in the public sector

John Larkin, the Country Manager of Pagero, our conference sponsors, discussed the essential steps that are necessary to successfully implement an e-Invoice strategy. As this strategy will be a legal obligation by 18 April 2018, the steps as outlined by Mr Larkin were both informative and highly necessary. While Declan McCormack in his discussion of e-Invoicing demonstrated the benefits of its implementation, John Larkin examined e-Invoicing at a practical business level to demonstrate the actions which must be taken to ensure that the switch to e-invoicing runs smoothly at an organisational level.

These steps include:

  • Define initial scope
  • Develop business case
  • Establish project and prepare design plan
  • Test and implement solution
  • Go live and roll out
  • Review success

These steps provided an insightful and practical guide for anyone working within public procurement to steer them through the implementation process.

Finola McCarthy: Reporting on Public Spending – Monitoring & auditing the public procurement process

To conclude our conference, Finola McCarthy of Ronan Daly Jermyn Law Firm looked at procurement from a public spending perspective. Finola McCarthy noted that the state spends approximately €12 billion on procurement annually. With a figure as significant as this, it is highly important that the process of procurement is handled in accordance with the laws and regulations that govern it. The speaker drew the audience’s attention to the importance of compliance in terms of public procurement. Public procurement must obey not only legal obligations but in addition to that government policy and internal corporate controls and policies.

To conclude our conference our panel of expert speakers welcomed delegates to ask them questions on the topics that were discussed. PAI’s Annual Public  Procurement Conference provided our attendees with valuable insights into recent updates and developments on public procurement from both a national and international perspective.

Conference Chair, Patrick Mc Govern, Independent Procurement Consultant, Niamh Hyland, Senior Counsel, Minister Patrick O'Donovan TD and Carol O'Connor, Executive Director at PAI










23 Nov, 2018

Five common editing errors

By |2018-11-23T12:46:13+00:00November 23rd, 2018|News|0 Comments

Sarah Marriott

Editing is an essential skill for anyone who writes at work. Becoming aware of common errors can help you to spot potential problems more quickly, which will speed up the editing stage.

1.Clarity and double meanings

  • Check each sentence says exactly what you intended. It’s easy to write something that makes perfect sense to you but may be ambiguous or unclear to readers (or just sound strange).

Example: It’s unusual to see five-year-old computers walking around offices. (Of course, computers can’t walk….).

2.Over-long sentences

  • Clear sentences often contain only one or two ideas or facts. Longer sentences can be more difficult to follow, because they have too many clauses. Online and in emails, sentences should be about 20 words or less – but in formal writing, sentences can be a bit longer (going up to 30 words if required).

3.Bullet-point lists

  • Bullet-point lists are a useful way of presenting complex information.  Always check that they read on logically from the introductory phrase (which is before the colon) and are punctuated in the same way throughout the same document. How you punctuate lists depends on your house style – and one of the most common styles is below.

Incorrect example

You must submit:

  • Your passport
  • A recent bank statement
  • And if you have one, an identity card

Correct example

You must submit:

  • Your passport
  • A recent bank statement
  • An identity card, if you have one

4.Singular and plural

  • Of course, you can’t write ‘it are’ or ‘they is’ but singular/plural agreement is a common mistake. Always check that the verb (the action word) and the subject (the person or thing doing the action) are both singular or both plural.

Example: ‘One in five teenagers smoke cannabis’ is incorrect because the person doing the smoking is ‘one teenager’ not five. So the correct version is ‘One teenager in five smokes cannabis’


Some people use too few; others use too many. The simplest test for where to put a comma is to read aloud and notice where you pause for breath inside a sentence. That pause is probably where a comma is needed. If you have a sentence with more than two commas (and it’s not a list), check it’s clear and not too long.

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 author of Common Errors in Written English.

Sarah Marriott will deliver a seminar on Editing Skills at PAI on Wednesday 5 December, click here for more information.

23 Nov, 2018

Leadership in the Public Sector; Purpose – Relationships Impact Growth

By |2018-11-23T11:08:18+00:00November 23rd, 2018|News|0 Comments

Georgina Corscadden

Public service covers the full spectrum of jobs and careers with many  public servants effecting real outcomes and results. The Public sector changes peoples lives.


What Millennials want is purpose and what about others, do we care about building relationships, meaning, impact, legacy and growth? Do we have a sense of purpose? Do we need to have leaders and managers within the public sector to give real freedom and professional autonomy to achieve things, to develop and deliver projects?


The purpose and values within the public sector connect to a noble cause, supporting a pivotal area of society to underpin strong foundations of government. The intention is to further enhance leadership within the public sector in a period of change and restructuring. Leadership is a complex interaction between people and environments that emerges through social systems.  Leadership development represents a dynamic process involving multiple interactions that persist over time. It involves the development and application of a variety of skills and is shaped by factors such as relationships with others and increasing self-awareness.


Leadership has always been more difficult in challenging times, but the unique stressors facing public sector organisations today call for a renewed focus on what constitutes genuine leadership. Such challenges have precipitated a renewed focus on restoring confidence, building resilience; enhancing self-awareness; and relating sincerely to all stakeholders.  Public sector organisations need a cadre of leaders who lead with purpose, values, and integrity; leaders who build enduring organisations, and leaders who motivate their employees to deliver superior service and create long-term value.

Georgina Corscadden will discuss Leadership in the Public Sector at PAI's upcoming CPD Compliance Conference on Thursday 6 December. Click here for more information on this key public sector event.

Georgina Corscadden is a dedicated and committed Master Coach, Mentor, Master Trainer, Psychologist and Facilitator with over 30 years’ experience in developing people and organisations.   Her expertise, track record, academic grounding and ethical approach to all her endeavours enable her to work within a wide variety of organisations with success.

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.


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.


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.