5 Feb, 2020

How to Track Public Investment Programmes

2020-02-05T15:17:00+00:00February 5th, 2020|News|Comments Off on How to Track Public Investment Programmes

The project material, recently published by Minister Paschal Donohoe TD, makes it possible for the public to track how infrastructure projects are progressing . The material also allows taxpayers to ascertain if they are getting real value for money from public investment.

Recent material
The material falls into three parts:-
1. Investment Projects and Programmes Tracker : The updated tracker lists a range of projects and programmes to be delivered by Departments over the period of the National Development Plan, where the costs are greater than €20 million, per project;
2. MyProjectIreland interactive map : The interactive mapping tool provides details on over 500 projects across Ireland, ranging from small-scale investments to the largest projects include in the capital programme, and
3. Prospects – Ireland’s Pipeline of Major Infrastructure Projects : This report provides further visibility on the sequencing of a sample of Ireland’s priority infrastructure projects over the coming years. It contains high level information on 50 of the largest projects included in ‘Project Ireland 2040’ and signposts to other sources for more detailed information…

Progress of Major Projects
Following the publication of the Public Spending Code last December, all public investment projects are required to go through six planning stages – see my recent blog

They are:
• Strategic Assessment;
• Preliminary Business Case;
• Final Business Case;
• Implementation;
• Review, and
• Ex-Post evaluation

The material published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform shows the stage of progress of each of the major projects. Table 1 lists the results for the top 12 projects. Each of these projects has an estimated cost of €500 million (or over).

Table 1: Top Twelve Public Infrastructure Projects










Name of Project Stage of Project Lifecycle Construction Cost range

1 Metrolink Preliminary Business Case 2027 €1 billion+
2 New Children’s Hospital Implementation/Construction 2023 €1 billion+
3 Water Supply Project (Eastern/ Midlands) Final Business Case 2027/28 €1 billion+
4 Celtic Interconnector Project Final Business Case TBC TBC* €500m- €1bn
5 N20 Cork to Limerick Preliminary Business Case TBC* €500m- €1bn
6 Greater Dublin Drainage Preliminary Business Case 2025 €500m- €1bn
7 Galway City Ring Road Final Business Case 2025 €500m- €1bn
8 Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant Implementation/Construction 2025 €500m- €1bn
9 N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom Implementation/Construction 2023 €250m- €500m
10 Dublin Airport North Runway Implementation/Construction 2021 €250m- €500m
11 N21/N69 Limerick to Adare to Foynes Final Business Case 2025 €250m- €500m
12 Cork City Wastewater Network Strategic Assessment TBC* €250m- €500m

* TBC = ‘to be confirmed’

The table shows that four major projects are at the implementation stage; four at the final business case stage; three at the preliminary business case stage and one at the strategic assessment stage.

Progress of Projects costing over €20million
The Investment Projects and Programmes Tracker focuses on projects with estimated costs in excess of €20million (per project). It was first published in 2017. The latest update provides data on the progress of nearly 200 investments that make up ‘Project Ireland 2040’.
• 59 projects are at construction stage – including the Oweninny Wind Farm Project, Mayo; the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project; the N56 Dungloe to Glenties Road, Donegal; and the National Children’s Hospital.
• 22 projects are set to commence construction this year, including Beaumont Hospital Radiation Oncology Unit; the Nangor Road, Clondalkin Housing Project; the Cork City Water Supply Scheme Upgrade; and the Coonagh to Knockalisheen Road, Limerick.
• 21 projects are set to complete construction in 2020, including the Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda.
• 10 projects were completed in 2019, including M11 Gorey to Enniscorthy Motorway; National Indoor Arena Phase 2; and Skibbereen Flood Relief Scheme. Twenty three projects over €20m commenced in 2019, including N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom; Galway Emergency Department and Ward Block; and Dominick Street (East Side) Regeneration Development, Dublin.

Table 2 charts the number of projects at different stages of project lifecycle









Do we need all this information?
Some may argue that there is too much information being provided. Not according to Minister Pascal Donohoe. At the recent launch of the material he was clear about the importance of providing – “…citizens with in-depth information on the progress underway in their town, city, county, province or region”. Moreover, he pointed out the importance of providing – “…both domestic and international construction firms the strong evidence base they need to plan effectively for the substantial opportunities available to them for investment”.

It is only right that the public should be able to observe the projects that are underway in their local areas. It is also right that taxpayers should be able to ascertain if they are getting real value for money from public investment.




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.

3 Feb, 2020

Please Don’t Judge me!

2020-02-03T10:31:46+00:00February 3rd, 2020|News|Comments Off on Please Don’t Judge me!

I’m ready to talk! Believe me I don’t want to be like this. I know how it looks. I’m odd, right? I barely say hi, I’m disconnected and seem very unfriendly. But you know what, I have to be like this. No, I’m being serious, I do. I have to protect myself.

Have you any idea how draining it is keeping up this pretence, day in and day out, hiding behind this mask, afraid to let it fall. It is better this way, for you to think I’m odd or anti-social rather than letting you in and meeting the real me.

The days you see me in work, believe it or not, they are the good days, on those days I’m ‘winning’. You have no idea how difficult and exhausting it is for me to be here today. I want to run and hide but I don’t I stay, I get my work done, to you I seem productive, but inside I long to be alone in the sanctuary of my home, my darkness.

Can I ask you something? How well do you function if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, not so well eh? Me, I don’t sleep much, well, in fact, on average I sleep 45 minutes a night. Those 45 minutes typically come just before I have to ‘rise and shine’ for the day ahead. I am so exhausted and worn that my body shakes uncontrollably. I don’t want to get up and face the day. I can’t do this anymore!

Today you will see me in the office because I have dragged myself out of the bed. I am torn, between calling in sick or struggling through the day. I should call in sick, but I don’t want to speak to anyone, maybe I’ll text them. This is all I want, to stay in my dark room, be alone, and be curled up in the foetal position under my covers with my headphones on, not being able to hear or see.

Today I decide to go work. As I drive my body becomes dull and heavy. It feels like the blood is draining from my body and filtering out through my toes. My head is spinning, my body is heavy, I’m a wreck. How much longer can I hide this?

I am approaching the office, my heart is racing, body shaking. I sit in my car, struggling and wanting to go home, nobody has seen me yet, maybe there’s still time. I am exhausted and it is not even 9am. I sit in my car and plan my route to my desk. I try to plan how I can avoid people or at worst how I can have the least amount of interactions.

I start to walk, passing reception, giving an exaggerated ‘hello’ and a smile, I move swiftly, there it is my desk, at least it is in the corner, I’m nearly there, giving the odd salute as I edge closer to the sanctuary that is my desk.

I’m safe, well as long as nobody needs me today. I cower behind my screen. My head is heavy and I can’t seem to get started. 10 minutes, 20, 45 and hour has now passed. The thoughts are constant, it just never stops, I’m exhausted. I need to get started. I set my timer for 45 minutes, a trick I use to try to focus. After the 45 I will take a 5-minute break and go again for 45.

I start to worry about lunch time. I want to be alone and go get some air, put on my headphones and go to some quiet area, where I can be alone. I have to plan my exit strategy. It’s lunchtime, I wait, people are going, okay now I can go, there’s nobody around. Freedom for a little while.

I know they think I’m odd. They don’t really bother with me anymore; I can’t blame them. I know they talk about me. Believe me I would give anything to be able to just hang out and talk and laugh, to be one of you. But I can’t.

It’s home time. I’m nearly there. In the door, eat some fast food. Race up the stairs, close the curtains, stick my headphones in, cover myself with my duvet and wait…………….Are you ready to hear this?


Neil Kelders International Speaker/Mental Health Ambassador/Performance & Wellbeing Coach joins us on the 6th February for PAI’s Annual HR Conference


Neil’s is speaking on Wellbeing in the workplace – Your role in breaking down the stigma, understanding the obstacles and supporting a positive mental health culture.

Neil specialises in the areas of Performance Coaching, Mentoring, Mental Health & Wellbeing Coaching. Neil has worked with a diverse range of target groups with the objective of helping them overcome barriers and sharing equally in the economic, cultural and social aspects of life. Neil has often been found over the years on National, Regional and Local Radio and national newspapers discussing his views on a wide range of wellbeing issues, in particular providing solution-based views to mental health problems.

Neil achieves life changing results by bringing his unique practical work experience and combining this with his professional background and work as a personal trainer and team coach, as well as his personal story. This allows Neil to provide personal client-centered results in a creative and inspiring environment.


Join us this Thursday 6th February at PAI’s Annual HR Conference – Building Inclusive Healthy Workplace Cultures – The Power of Diversity and Wellbeing. This half day event will educate and inspire!

BOOK NOW – https://www.pai.ie/events/public-sector-hr-conference-2020/

20 Jan, 2020

Organisations Must Reinvent Themselves With A Human Focus

2020-01-20T15:15:15+00:00January 20th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Organisations Must Reinvent Themselves With A Human Focus

Organisations are operating in a world where technological, economic and social change are driving the future of work, which is radically transforming the workplace. To help identify and manage this change, we facilitate an annual Global Human Capital Trends survey to know top trends for HR and business leaders around the world. This article complements the Deloitte 2019 Global Human Capital Trends Report, which surveyed over 10,000 respondents and highlights the results from three trends that are particularly topical and relevant to diversity and wellbeing.

In order to create value as a social enterprise in today’s dynamic and demanding environment, organisations must reinvent themselves with a human focus – on three fronts: the workforce, the organisation, and HR.

The Superjob
Managing alternative forms of employment has become critical for organisations that want to grow and access critical skills. This is undoubtedly going to create more diversity of skill and thought in the workplace and lends itself to a “superjob” concept.

Superjobs combine work and responsibilities from multiple traditional jobs, using both technology to augment and broaden the scope of work performed and involves a more complex set of domain, technical, and human skills. The complex pace of change affecting employees and organisations is blurring the line between work and life and there is often a gap in what employees value and what companies tend to offer.

From Employee to Human Experience
Increasing numbers of Irish organisations have intensified their focus on social responsibility programmes in recent years, invest¬ing time in building positive relationships not just with customers but also with local communities, regulators, and a variety of other stakeholders.

Organisational strategies need to consider both the employee and the human experience and invest in the social ecosys¬tem, starting with their own employees. The means pro¬viding a work environment that promotes longev¬ity and well-being focused not just on the career of each individual, but also on their physical, mental and financial well-being.

Opportunity for Organisations Embracing Diversity and Well-being
Organisations tend to overlook their largest potential source of talent – their own workforce and internal talent market. Thus, employees tend to move to other organisations for attractive opportunities and new roles. Hiring people with critical skills is highly competitive; workers who want to reinvent themselves do not necessarily want to leave their current employer; internal mobility can be a way to embed collaboration and agility into an organisation’s culture, which is one of the key attributes of becoming a true social enterprise. The shift toward flatter organisational models also creates a greater need for internal mobility. This also calls for a focus on embracing the diversity of the workforce and being mindful of employees’ interests and overall well-being.










Alison McIntyre
Alison is a Manager with Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital Management Team, with over 5 years of experience supporting public and private sector clients. With a focus on organisational transformations, Alison has a wide-range of change management, learning and project management experience. Alison began her career as a Technology Analyst working with large-scale Federal Health clients in Washington, D.C before transitioning to Ireland in May 2018. Currently, Alison is leading a change and communications team for the largest cyber security programme in the EU.

Alison will share her expertise at PAI’s Annual HR Conference on 6th February 2020. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Building Inclusive Healthy Workplace Cultures – The Power of Well being and Diversity’.

Follow this link for further information – https://www.pai.ie/events/public-sector-hr-conference-2020/


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”.

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”.


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”.


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


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



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 expen