Wednesday, 2 June 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
44. Ms Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the work undertaken to date by the internal implementation team within his Department dealing with decentralisation; if any sites for decentralisation have yet been agreed; if the team has undertaken or plans to undertake any survey to establish the number of persons employed in his Department, in boards or agencies operating under the aegis of his Department which are willing to move to the new locations announced by the Minister for Finance in his budget speech 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16503/04]
264. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has had a risk assessment carried out on possible consequential risks to the effectiveness of services provided by each Department or agency under his aegis which is to relocate under the Government’s decentralisation programme; if not, the reason therefore; and if so, if the risk assessment will be published, furnished to the Comptroller and Auditor General and accessible under the Freedom of Information Act 1997. [16853/04]
265. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the Secretary General of his Department has provided him with advice in pursuance of the Secretary General’s responsibility as accounting officer under public finance procedures as set out in table 2 of the Mullarkey report; and if not, if he has requested such advice from the Secretary General. [16868/04]
267. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will take steps to ensure that the annual report of his Department will contain a risk assessment of decentralisation, as it affects his Department or agencies under its aegis, dealing with strategic, operational, financial and reputational risks as set out in paragraph 6.31 of the Mullarkey report. [16898/04]
268. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the audit committee of his Department will consider a risk assessment with regard to strategic, operational, financial and reputational risks of the implementation of the Government’s decentralisation proposals as they affect his Department or its agencies; and if not, the reason therefor, in view of the recommendation of the Mullarkey committee that such risk assessment be carried out. [16913/04]
272. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the Secretary General of his Department has tendered advice to him in pursuance of his personal responsibility as Secretary General under public financial procedures for economy and efficiency in the administration of his Department on the impact in the short or long-term on the economy and the efficiency of administration of his Department or its agencies arising from the Government’s proposals for decentralisation. [16971/04]
My Department’s decentralisation implementation unit is co-operating actively with the decentralisation implementation group, the Department of Finance and the Office of Public Works in relation to the decentralisation programme announced in budget 2004. My Department is committed to developing innovative approaches to information management, communications and logistics so as to maintain and improve the quality of service to be delivered under decentralised arrangements and to minimise disruption. The unit is also facilitating full and timely communication with staff of the Department on the progress of the decentralisation programme, through the Department’s partnership committee and otherwise.
The Office of Public Works is responsible for the selection of suitable sites for Departments’ offices and has been in consultation with my Department in relation to the property aspects of the decentralisation programme. The provision of high quality office accommodation will be a primary consideration in the selection of a property in all locations.
My Department considered that a survey of staff would most valuably be undertaken when greater clarification on detailed arrangements was available following, inter alia, publication of the Flynn report on 31 March 2004. In accordance with the report’s recommendations, the Department of Finance has developed an integrated transfer system or central applications facility which allows eligible people in my Department and its agencies to apply for transfer to decentralised locations and rank their preferences for different locations. This system will enable me to determine interest in transferring to the designated locations.
An implementation plan, covering all aspects of the decentralisation process for my Department has been submitted to the decentralisation implementation group. The plan, in particular, incorporates specific risk assessment and mitigation strategies. I will be happy to arrange for the publication of the implementation plan as soon as possible after it has been made available to staff interests. I understand that an implementation plan has also been submitted by the National Building Agency.
In relation to the issue of public financial procedures generally, my Department is fully aware of the requirement in the public financial procedures for accounting officers to ensure that all relevant financial considerations are taken fully into account, in relation to the preparation and implementation of policy proposals relating to expenditure or income. In addition, there is an ongoing awareness in my Department of the type of risks identified in paragraph 6.31 of the report of the working group on the accountability of Secretaries General and Accounting Officers — the Mullarkey Report. I can confirm that these issues are regularly addressed in my Department.
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