Public Affairs

Minister Paschal Donohoe TD: Remuneration committee ‘enhances clarity, consistency, and transparency’

The newly-established Senior Posts Remuneration Committee aims to provide objective and independent advice to the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform (DPENDR) regarding the remuneration of senior roles in the public service.

The new committee has been established one year after the publication of a report which claims that the recruitment process for top level appointments is delivering “reasonable outcomes but is too slow”.

The 2023 Review of Senior Public Service Recruitment and Pay Determination Processes specifies that, in relation to pay determination, there are particular challenges with commercial state bodies (CSBs). As such the new committee is highly likely to be able to set pay scales for organisations such as the ESB, VHI Healthcare and the state-owned transport companies.

“There were a number of areas where issues with transparency and consistency were identified as well as clearly defined processes and procedures.

“There is a need for clearer overall ownership of, and accountability for, identified processes, including recruitment and appointment and also leadership development across the civil service,” the report states.

In line with recommendations made by the 2023 review, the committee aims to provide “objective and independent advice” to the Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform regarding the remuneration of senior roles in the public service.

Although the Government has agreed that officeholders will not be within scope for the committee to review, it has agreed to limit the term length for secretary general posts at seven years, which it states, “reflects current procedures, with a possible extension of up to two additional years where necessary”. The new legislation will maintain that on completion of their term the, senior civil servants could revert to the lower grade of assistant secretary (with the appropriate pay for the position) or receive a one-time, end of term payment equivalent to one year’s salary.

However, the new committee will not have the power to decide pay of ministers or political officeholders.

As recommended in the Independent Review Panel Report on completion of the current term of appointment, all future appointees to secretary general posts will be offered revised arrangements at the end of their term. These revised conditions will be put in place for all posts to be identified from this point onwards.

The committee is made up of five members. Its chair, Maeve Carton, is a chartered accountant and member of the Professional Standards Board of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

A Governor of The Irish Times Trust and a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), Carton is also former Chairperson of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).

Speaking following the announcement of the committee chair, Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform Paschal Donohoe TD said: “In addressing the recommendations of the report of the independent review panel in respect of the term and arrangements for these very senior posts, government is enhancing clarity, consistency and transparency for all stakeholders while retaining an ability to preserve experience within the system.”

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