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Public Expenditure and Reform | Budget reform throughout Departments

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he continues to exercise the functions of reform throughout all Departments given that this applies to achieving the best-possible results through this medium budgeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I thank the Deputy for his question.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s mission as laid out in the Statement of Strategy 2021- 2023 is to serve the public interest through sound governance of public expenditure and by leading and enabling reform across the Civil and Public Service.

To date a number of strategies have been published to carry out the Department’s mission, and at present the next phase of public service reform (to succeed Our Public Service 2020) is being prepared by officials. It will incorporate priorities that were articulated in the Public Service Innovation Strategy, Making Innovation Real in addition to aligning with the ambitions set out in the programme of renewal for the Civil Service (Civil Service Renewal 2030) and its recently published three year Action Plan (Civil Service Renewal 2024).

Additionally, in March 2022, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer in my Department published a new Public Service Digital Strategy ‘Connecting Government 2030: A Digital and ICT Strategy for Ireland’s Public Service’, which articulates my Department’s ambitions for digital reform by further embedding digitisation and the increased delivery of digital services to the public.

As regards the drive for more value for money all public organisations are required 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. This is in accordance with the Public Spending Code. Moreover, Action 5 of Our Public Service 2020 (Action 5) emphasises the need to ensure value-for-money principles are adhered to across the Public Service.

As part of this broader approach to ensuring value for money, the introduction of shared services and centralised procurement in earlier phases of reform have been further integrated in public service operations and expanded into new areas. These expansions will continue apace and this Department is actively exploring new areas and mechanisms to further embed reforms and efficiencies that will enhance the cost-effectiveness of public services; for example, through greater use of opportunities presented through digitalisation, intelligent automation, innovation and the implementation of new ways of working and service design.

The Deputy may also wish to note that, as part of the Public Service Pay Agreement ‘Building Momentum’ (and any extension thereof), parties are committed to the ongoing reform and development of public services to meet the changing needs of citizens, communities, businesses and the staff who deliver our public services.

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