Dáil Éireann - Volume 587 - 15 June, 2004
Written Answers. - Expenditure Reviews.
Mr. J. Bruton Mr. J. Bruton
132. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her Department has achieved the target, set out in the initiation of the expenditure review initiative in 1997, that all Government expenditure be subject to a formal review under that initiative every three years; and if not, the areas of expenditure in respect of which the three yearly review has not taken place. [17571/04]
Mr. J. Bruton Mr. J. Bruton
133. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the areas of expenditure of her Department in respect of which an expenditure review under the expenditure review initiative has not yet been completed and published. [17586/04]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Ms Harney: I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 and 133 together.
Expenditure reviews under the expenditure review initiative have been undertaken on the following five areas: community employment; IDA 1994-1997; FÁS’s standards-based apprenticeship programme; Forfás; and FÁS’s traineeship and specific skills training programmes. Additionally, two further expenditure reviews under the initiat ive on IDA Ireland’s property portfolio and Enterprise Ireland’s overseas office network are nearing completion. Two other expenditure reviews are under way, one relating to supports for the long-term unemployed, which is a cross-departmental review, and a review of science and technology spending. All of these programmes represent approximately 60% of the Department’s 2004 voted programme expenditure plus the national training fund. The remaining elements of my Department’s voted programme expenditure has not yet been reviewed under the initiative. It is likely that the Department will shortly decide on the likely programmes to be reviewed under the next tranche of expenditure reviews.
In addition to expenditure reviews under the expenditure review initiative, my Department is very much involved in programme evaluations carried out under the national development plan-community support structure process, in conjunction with the NDP central evaluation unit. Furthermore, the science and technology budget includes a line for evaluations-reviews and has a culture of ongoing evaluation. Other reviews are carried out on an ongoing basis by my Department’s agencies, such as FÁS, Forfás etc.
The initial target of the expenditure review initiative, ERI, was to review all expenditure programmes over a three year period. However, a review of the process by the Department of Finance, expenditure review central steering committee, ERCSC, in 2000-01 found that this target had been overly ambitious and that a more focused approach to the selection of review topics was required. This view was supported by a Comptroller and Auditor General value for money study of the ERI in 2001 which proposed that a more realistic target should be set that took into account the level of evaluative capacity in Departments generally.
In June 2001, the Government decided, inter alia, that the Department of Finance and individual Departments-offices should compile and agree a work plan of review topics based on specific selection criteria, that is, that programmes selected for review should reflect Government priorities or strategic result areas, involve significant levels of expenditure etc. Subsequently, in May 2002, the Government approved a schedule of expenditure review topics proposed for the first year of the next three-year planning horizon, 2002-04, and noted the topics proposed for 2003 and 2004. In April 2003, the ERCSC asked Departments-offices to update their expenditure review plans, again in consultation with the Department of Finance. The committee emphasised the Government’s selection criteria and advised that Departments-offices should select a small number of programmes-areas involving major policy issues or significant levels of expenditure. On foot of this process, revised expenditure review plans were drawn up by Departments-offices.
Dáil Éireann 587 Written Answers. Expenditure Reviews.