eolas summarises the main themes in the Government’s shared services programme. Finance and HR have been prioritised and the Public Service Reform Plan aims to have a full range of services in place by 2017.
Financial Shared Services
Established in 2005, the Department of Justice and Equality’s Financial Shared Services (FSS) Centre is based in Killarney and serves 10 client organisations: the parent department, the Department of the Taoiseach; the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; An Garda Síochána; the Irish Prison Service; the Courts Service; the Property Registration Authority; the National Museum of Ireland; the National Library of Ireland; and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.
Monthly performance reports are based on key performance indicators in the service level agreements. Payroll processing for gardaí and prison officers has been transferred to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Payroll Shared Service Centre (PSSC).
New financial services model
In January 2014, the Government agreed to proceed with a ‘financial management shared services’ project for the Civil Service, defence and justice sectors: covering 59,000 employees. The same model is also being considered for the health, education and local government sectors – totalling 219,000 employees.
This move would reduce the number of payroll centres from 20 to three offices in Galway, Tullamore and Killarney – incorporating the work of the FSS and PSSC. Savings of €14.6 million per annum are anticipated i.e. through reduced infrastructure costs and a cut of around 24 per cent in finance-related staff numbers.
The centre would streamline invoice processing and the preparation of month end accounts across the three sectors. At present, three aspects are being considered: detailed finance business requirements; technology design; and a single chart of accounts. Implementation is expected by 2016. Minister Howlin contends that the new model is necessary to meet new EU and IMF accounting standards.
Launched in March 2013, PeoplePoint is the Civil Service’s Human Resources and Pensions Shared Service Centre. It initially covered six organisations: the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the Department of Finance; the Department of Justice and Equality; the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; the Central Statistics Office; and An Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission.
The key aims are to transfer 40 departments, offices and agencies by the end of 2014 and achieve annual savings of €12.5 million and a 17 per cent staff reduction. PeoplePoint is based in Clonskeagh, South Dublin.
Back in 2011, the first Public Service Reform Plan foresaw shared services across human resources, finance, payroll, banking and pensions. These would be “implemented on a phased basis up to 2016”, starting with HR, payroll and pensions.
The PeoplePoint project for HR and pensions went live in 2013 and now covers 15,000 employees. The trend of moving organisations to the Payroll Shared Services Centre is continuing. The second Public Service Reform Plan (January 2014) explained that the following were being considered:
• national recruitment and pensions shared services for health services;
• a payroll shared service for education and training boards; and
• Laois County Council’s shared service centre for local government payroll.
The latter service became operational in January 2014. The National Shared Services Office was also established to oversee the continued implementation of the policy. From 2017, when shared service centres are due to be fully operational, the strategy will shift to converging and consolidating transactional processing and including more specialised functions.