Dáil Éireann - Volume 571 - 30 September, 2003
Written Answers. - Benchmarking Awards.
Mr. Boyle Mr. Boyle
202. Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Finance the Government's plans to ensure full compliance with payment of benchmarking awards. [20940/03]
Mr. Quinn Mr. Quinn
204. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance the steps it is intended to take to meet the com mitments to modernisation of the public service given in Sustaining Progress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20767/03]
Mr. McCreevy Mr. McCreevy
Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 202 and 204 together.
In replying to the question it is important to remember the steps that have already been taken to meet the commitments to modernisation of the public service given in Sustaining Progress.
My Department requested all Secretaries General and other heads of offices to put in place the necessary measures to ensure that the civil service change and modernisation agenda set out in Sustaining Progress could be delivered. Secretaries General who are responsible for particular sectors of the public service were also requested to ensure both that the stakeholders and agencies within their sectors were fully informed of the terms of the agreement and that they would actively participate in pushing forward the change and modernisation agenda. Arrangements were also put in place by my Department to monitor developments in relation to the modernisation commitments in Sustaining Progress across the public service. In addition, the SMI implementation group of Secretaries General assumed and will continue to have an important role of overseeing and driving progress towards achieving these commitments.
In its report, the benchmarking body recommended that the implementation of the pay awards – apart from the first one quarter of any award – should be conditional on appropriate validation procedures verifying that sufficient progress was achieved in the implementation of the modernisation agenda. Sustaining Progress goes further in that it also links the payment of the general round increases in its pay provisions to the independent assessment of sufficient progress and also provides that such an assessment can be made in relation to each sector, organisation and grade across the public service.
This verification or assessment process is being carried out for each of the sectors of the public service by separate sectoral performance verification groups, which will make an assessment of progress prior to the application of each pay element in the agreement. These groups include, as well as management and trade union representatives, independent members drawn from the private sector and customers of the relevant public sector. Assessments will be made in relation to action plans for each organisation derived from the commitments in the agreement which have been agreed by each performance verification group, as well as on an assessment of progress achieved in the relevant sector provided by the Secretary General responsible. The agreement also provides that each sectoral performance verification group will maintain close contact with each of the organisations under their remit throughout the reporting period, that is until June 2005. This will help ensure that action to  implement commitments will be consistent and effective.
I am satisfied that the verification arrangements agreed between all parties to Sustaining Progress as well as the administrative arrangements I have outlined above will prove to be adequate towards meeting the commitments on public service modernisation set out in that agreement.
Question No. 203 answered with Question No. 144.
Question No. 204 answered with Question No. 202.
Dáil Éireann 571 Written Answers. Benchmarking Awards.