The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform regularly updates the Public Spending Code to ensure that it continues to reflect current best practice in project appraisal and evaluation. On 19 January 2023, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Pascal Donoghue gave the most recent update on the Code, in a reply to a Parliamentary Question. https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2023-01-19/112/?highlight%5B0%5D=public&highlight%5B1%5D=public
As a prelude to the update, the Minister pointed out that – the majority of public investment projects are delivered on budget and on time. There is a high level of professionalism across sectors. However, noting the higher risk profile of larger projects, new procedures were required in order to improve project out-turns, to avoid cost overruns and to avoid delays to project delivery”.
The new procedures that the Minister referred to are twofold.
1) The EAP: The EAP is the external assurance process which provides independent scrutiny for major public capital projects. This involves independent expert reviews at two key stages in the project life cycle under the public spending code. The purpose of the EAP is to improve value for money and to support funding Departments with expert insight relating to project risks.
2) The MPAG: The MPAG is the major projects advisory group established by Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The MPAG facilitates a better understanding of the outputs from the external reviews, and helps with the decisions around major capital projects.
The MPAG has been active at the project level. Specifically, the group has now completed reviews of four major project proposals: –
- BusConnects (the National Transport Authority’s programme to improve bus services across the country;
- MetroLink (the proposed rail line running from Swords to Charlemont, linking Dublin Airport, Irish Rail, DART, Dublin Bus and Luas services;
- Clonburris urban regeneration development fund spending; and
- Elective care centres proposed for Cork and Galway.
Tom Ferris, Consultant Economist.
Tom Ferris is a Consultant Economist specialising in Better Regulation. He lectures on a number of PAI courses and blogs regularly for PAI. He was formerly the Senior Economist at the Department of Transport, Ireland.