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Public Expenditure and Reform | Extent to which projects unable to achieve good value for money have been identified

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which his Department have identified projects least compliant with the principal of achieving good value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The Government has committed to €165 billion in capital investment through the National Development Plan (NDP) published last year. As a percentage of national income, annual capital investment is now among the largest in the EU. In 2022, almost €12 billion will fund vital infrastructure in areas such as housing, transport, education, enterprise, sport and climate action.

My Department is responsible for the Public Spending Code (PSC), which sets the value for money requirements and guidance for evaluating, planning and managing Exchequer-funded capital projects.

Management and delivery of investment projects and public services within allocation and the national frameworks is a key responsibility of every Department and Minister. It is the responsibility of the relevant government department to ensure that the procedures are in place to ensure compliance with the Public Spending Code within their department/office and within the bodies under the aegis of their department.

It is also the responsibility of each government department to ensure that departments and agencies draw up their own sector-specific procedures for evaluating, planning and managing public investment which aligns with the Public Spending Code.

The majority of public investment projects are delivered on budget and on time and there is a high level of professionalism across the sectors. However, noting the higher risk profile of larger projects, it was recognised that new procedures were required in order to improve project out-turns, avoid cost overruns and avoid delays to project delivery.

Responding to this need, my Department put in place an External Assurance Process (EAP) to provide independent scrutiny for major public capital projects (projects which cost in excess of €100m). This involves independent expert reviews at two key stages in the project lifecycle under the PSC (approval in principle and prior to tendering).  

The purpose of the EAP is to improve value for money and support funding departments and Government with expert insight relating to project risks, delivery feasibility, and robustness of costings, governance and procurement. Funding departments can avail of external assurance services and independent expertise through a framework of qualified service providers which has been established by my Department.

The Major Projects Advisory Group (MPAG) has also been established by my Department. MPAG supports my Department in assimilating the outputs from the external reviews, and aids government departments and agencies in improving the quality of project proposals. informed by the perspective of those who have successfully delivered major public infrastructure in Ireland.  Project proposals and external reviews are scrutinised by MPAG as a prerequisite to seeking Government approval in principle to proceed with the proposal and Government approval for permission to tender.

Experience from other countries which have introduced similar independent assurance processes shows that such arrangements reduce project schedule delay and cost overruns, providing greater value for money. These arrangements bring Ireland into line with leading international performers and meet a recommendation of the IMF’s Public Investment Management Assessment of Ireland.

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