Thursday, 11 December 2008
Dáil Eireann Debate
5. Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Finance if the departmental schemes of performance-related rewards have in all cases taken up the entire pool of 10% of the pay bill of the groups concerned since they were first instituted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45547/08]
Deputy Brian Lenihan: The current scheme for departmental performance-related awards was introduced following a decision by the Government on the implementation of recommendations in report No. 38 of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector. In the case of Departments, the scheme applies to posts at the levels of deputy secretary and assistant secretary. The first payments under the scheme were made in 2002. The schemes of awards are based on performance by reference to demanding targets. The pool for performance awards is 10% of the pay bill for participating members of the group concerned. Within that overall limit, individuals can receive payments of up to 20% of pay, although payments at that level are very rare.
Since the introduction of the scheme the full pool, or close to it, has been applied in respect of persons participating in the scheme. The salaries of persons who are eligible to participate in the scheme but choose not to do so are not taken into account in calculating the pool. I have no role in the decisions on awards. Decisions are made by the Committee for Performance Awards, which includes a majority of private sector members. The main roles of the committee are to monitor the application of the scheme and to bring independent judgment to bear in approving objectives for the persons covered by the scheme and in approving recommendations for awards. Details of the procedures, the numbers covered by the schemes, the range of awards and the total amounts paid in Departments are outlined in the annual reports of the committee, which are available on the website www.finance.gov.ie.
Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Could the Minister give an indication of the number of people who have applied for this scheme, the number who have received awards under it and the amount of money that has been paid in the form of bonuses under it for 2007 and 2008? Is the Minister satisfied that the taxpayer is getting value for money? The output statements for the top-spending Departments for 2007 show that 37% of targets were not met overall. In the Department of Health and Children, 46% of targets were not met while 48% of targets were not met in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. In the current climate, does the Minister believe the taxpayer is getting value for money?
Deputy Brian Lenihan: With regard to the detailed information sought by the Deputy, the range of individual awards varies. In 2007, for example, a total of 194 civil servants received awards ranging from €3,200 to €26,000. Details of awards made between 2002 and 2007 may be obtained by the Deputy from the annual reports of the committee, which are available.
On the more general issue, I have no role in decisions on awards. Each departmental secretary or equivalent agrees annual objectives with eligible members of his or her staff who opt into the scheme. At the end of each year, each Secretary General or equivalent submits recommendations to the Committee for Performance Awards on the level of award, if any, to be made to each participating individual, having regard to his or her performance against the pre-set objectives. Decisions on awards are made by the committee, which includes a majority of private sector members. The main roles of the committee are to monitor the application of the scheme and to bring independent judgement to bear in approving objectives for the persons covered by the scheme and in approving recommendations for awards.
Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: The Minister has not dealt with the question. Does he not agree that people might look in on this and think it is a cosy club? He mentioned that 194 civil servants qualified for payments under the scheme. How many in total applied for the scheme? What percentage of this is represented by the 194 who qualified for payments? We must bear in mind the fact that 37% of targets were not met last year. In the area of health, in which 46% of targets were not met, we are talking about primary care teams and cancer screening services. Could the Minister give proper answers to these questions?
Deputy Brian Lenihan: I have answered the different questions posed by the Deputy. I do not have at my disposal detailed information on the number of applications and the proportion of such applications which were successful.
Not all eligible persons choose to participate in the scheme. Of those who do participate, key objectives must be agreed in advance with the relevant Secretaries General or equivalents, who subsequently make recommendations to the committee.
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