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Ireland

Improve Transparency of Government Service Providers (IE0041)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Ireland National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Support Institution(s): Department of Health, Department of Education, Department of Defence, Local Government sector. All government departments that, directly or indirectly, grant fund organisations to deliver services on their behalf.

Policy Areas

Fiscal Transparency, Open Contracting and Procurement, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: Ireland End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Ireland Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Government will improve transparency of organisations delivering services on its behalf, whether they are funded by grant or contract for service. Objective: To increase the release of data, preferably machine readable data, on organisations delivering services on the Government’s behalf. This will include audited financial data, compliance data and on-going performance delivery data. Status quo: The Government established the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) in 2013 to deliver better value and sustainable savings for the taxpayer, integrate procurement policy, strategy and operations, enable consistency and standardise the approach to public procurement, deliver broader policy goals in a consistent fashion and strengthen procurement spend analytics and data management. The legislative provisions of the EU Procurement Directives provide for the publication of tender and award notices for contracts above the applicable EU thresholds. However, the Office of Government Procurement has gone further to promote greater openness and transparency and the policy is that buyers are required to publish tender and award notices for contracts above €25k for goods and services and €50k for works on eTenders. In Ireland, billions of Euro are dispersed every year by the Government to non-profit bodies to deliver services that in other jurisdictions are often delivered directly by the state. In relation to grant funded services, each grantor collects detailed compliance and performance data but it is generally not published at an individual grantee organisation level. In 2014, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published a Circular (13/2014) to improve the management of and accountability for grants from exchequer funds. In 2015 the Government co-funded Benefacts.ie to centralise, digitise and publish all regulatory data on all non-profits in Ireland. While Benefacts has greatly improved transparency, it is based solely on audited regulatory filings and does not include compliance or performance data collected by grantors. Ambition: We will assess the appropriateness of standard transparency clauses for all large service contracts and grant agreements in an Irish context. We will identify the improvements required in data infrastructure and compliance practices to facilitate the proactive release of data on all large service contracts and grant agreements, as appropriate. Lead implementing organisations: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform 26 Timeline: June 2018.
Commitment 8: Improve transparency of government service providers OGP values Access to information, Public accountability, Technology and innovation New or ongoing commitment New Lead implementation organisations Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Other actors involved - government Department of Health, Department of Education, Department of Defence, Local Government sector. All government departments that, directly or indirectly, grant fund organisations to deliver services on their behalf. Verifiable and measurable milestones to fulfil the commitment. New or ongoing, Start date End date. Undertake a strategic assessment of contracting data infrastructure and contracting transparency compliance practices to identify changes required to: - deliver data to the Open Contracting Partnership’s Open Contracting Data Standard Intermediate level, and - be able to deliver on the requirements of a standard transparency clause in all large service contracts if such a clause were to be implemented New Jan 2017 June 2018 Assess the impact of transparency clauses in other jurisdictions, and consult with public bodies and industry representatives on the introduction of a standard transparency clause in order to inform a final decision on implementation of a standard transparency clause in service contracts. New Jan 2017 June 2018 Undertake a strategic assessment of grant funding data infrastructure and grant funding compliance practices to identify changes required to: New Jan 2017 Sept 2017 27 - deliver data equivalent to the Open Contracting Partnership’s Open Contracting Data Standard Basic level - be able to deliver on the requirements of a standard transparency clause in all major grant agreements Consult with public bodies and grant funded bodies on the introduction of a model transparency clause in order to inform a final decision on implementation of a standard transparency clause in grant agreements. New Jan 2017 June 2018.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

8. Improve Transparency of Government Service Providers

Commitment Text:

Objective: To increase the release of data, preferably machine readable data, on organisations delivering services on the Government’s behalf. This will include audited financial data, compliance data and on-going performance delivery data.

Milestones

8.1. Undertake a strategic assessment of contracting data infrastructure and contracting transparency compliance practices to identify changes required to:

· deliver data to the Open Contracting Partnership’s Open Contracting Data Standard Intermediate level, and

· be able to deliver on the requirements of a standard transparency clause in all large service contracts if such a clause were to be implemented

8.2. Assess the impact of transparency clauses in other jurisdictions, and consult with public bodies and industry representatives on the introduction of a standard transparency clause in order to inform a final decision on implementation of a standard transparency clause in service contracts.

8.3. Undertake a strategic assessment of grant funding data infrastructure and grant funding compliance practices to identify changes required to:

· deliver data equivalent to the Open Contracting Partnership’s Open Contracting Data Standard Basic level

· be able to deliver on the requirements of a standard transparency clause in all major grant agreements

8.4. Consult with public bodies and grant funded bodies on the introduction of a model transparency clause in order to inform a final decision on implementation of a standard transparency clause in grant agreements.

Responsible institution: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Supporting institutions: Department of Health, Department of Education, Department of Defence, Local Government sector. All government departments that, directly or indirectly, grant fund organisations to deliver services on their behalf.

Start date: January 2017

End date: June 2018

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Ireland_NAP_2016-2018.pdf.

Context and Objectives

The government of Ireland allocates billions of euros in grants every year to various nongovernmental organisations to deliver services to the Irish state.[Note: ‘Where does your money go? New website gives detailed breakdown of government spending’, TheJournal.ie, 11 April 2017, http://www.thejournal.ie/government-money-website-3333906-Apr2017/.] This commitment seeks to increase transparency to all large service contracts and grant agreements by way of releasing data regarding public funds received by organisations delivering services. This in turn will afford citizens with better knowledge of who is attaining grants and contracts from the state for the delivery of certain services. More specifically, the commitment calls for:

Milestone 8.1: Undertaking a strategic assessment of contracting data infrastructure and contracting transparency compliance practices.

Milestone 8.2: Assessing the impact of transparency clauses in other jurisdictions, in consultation with public bodies and industry representatives on the introduction of a standard transparency clause,

Milestone 8.3: Undertaking a strategic assessment of grant funding data infrastructure and grant funding compliance practices,

Milestone 8.4: Consulting with public bodies and grant funded bodies on the introduction of a model transparency clause.

Given that the goal is to increase information available on government contracts and grants, effectively holding the state accountable for the funds they have earmarked for these ends, the commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information, which will promote transparency in the carrying out of government functions. The milestones include activities that are reasonably verifiable, such as the strategic assessments for milestones 8.1 and 8.3 which call for the delivery of contracting and grant funding data to the Open Contracting Partnership’s Open Contracting Data Standard Basic level. Therefore, the overall specificity is coded as high. However, the consultations ‘industry leaders’ in Milestone 8.2 and with ‘grant funded bodies’ in Milestone 8.4 are less specific given that that service contracts are given to a plethora of firms and organisations. Similarly, it is unclear what ‘other jurisdictions’ refers to and which exact theoretical benchmarks will the assessment of transparency clauses. Given that there is no legislative change that will result, the potential impact is minor. For example, consultation on the introduction of a standard transparency clause in grant agreements, as per Milestone 8.4, is not necessarily going to be met with a resultant law that makes this a statutory obligation for all grant agreements going forward. Without such procedures which are guaranteed by law, this makes the potential impact minor.

Completion

The overall progress of this commitment has not begun and it is behind schedule. According to the government’s progress report, one initial meeting took place between the Reform and Delivery Office, Office of Government Procurement, and the Director of Open Contracting Partnership in January 2017 regarding milestones 8.1 and 8.2. There is no reporting on milestones 8.3 and 8.4 in the government’s progress report. No stakeholders have been consulted in the first year of implementation, which would have theoretically taken place in the implementation of milestones 8.2 and 8.4.

Next Steps

In the likely event that the commitment is not implemented, it should be carried forward into the next action plan. However, the IRM researcher recommends that the text of the commitment be modified on two grounds. First, the text should be written in plain language, clearly identifying the objectives. Second, it should more explicitly identify both the change in practice that is to be obtained upon successful completion of the commitment, and the legal obligations for all grant agreements that may be developed in the future in order to ensure transparency going forward.

IRM End of Term Status Summary


Ireland's Commitments

  1. Promote Transparent Climate Policy Development

    IE0031, 2016, Environment and Climate

  2. Support Public Participation Networks

    IE0032, 2016, Capacity Building

  3. Improve Access to Justice: Reducing Costs

    IE0033, 2016, Judiciary

  4. Improve Access to Justice: Framework to Assist Vulnerable Persons

    IE0034, 2016, Judiciary

  5. Improve Access to Justice: Oversight of Legal Practitioners

    IE0035, 2016, Justice

  6. Enhance Citizen Engagement in Policy Making: General

    IE0036, 2016, Capacity Building

  7. Enhance Citizen Engagement in Policy Making: Youth

    IE0037, 2016, Marginalized Communities

  8. Enhance Customer Engagement

    IE0038, 2016, Capacity Building

  9. Improve Access To Government Services Through Technology

    IE0039, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. Participatory Budgeting

    IE0040, 2016, Participation in Budget Processes

  11. Improve Transparency of Government Service Providers

    IE0041, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  12. Enhance Fiscal Transparency

    IE0042, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  13. Introduce Modern Document Management Procedures

    IE0043, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  14. Develop an Open Data Strategy 2017-2020

    IE0044, 2016, E-Government

  15. Invest in Data Infrastructure that will result in better Open Data

    IE0045, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  16. Starred commitment Develop a Code of Practice for the Governance of Charities

    IE0046, 2016,

  17. Starred commitment Public Sector Standards Bill

    IE0047, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  18. Establish a Register of Beneficial Ownership

    IE0048, 2016, Asset Disclosure

  19. Establishment of best practice standards for Open Data

    IE0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  20. Establishment of Ireland’s Open Data Platform

    IE0002, 2014, E-Government

  21. Undertake an audit of key datasets for publication

    IE0003, 2014, Open Data

  22. Establish a roadmap for the Open Data and an evaluation framework to provide assessment of the ongoing Open Data

    IE0004, 2014, Open Data

  23. Establishment of an Open Data Ireland Governance Board (ODIGB) and Steering and Implementation Group (SIG) for Open Data Ireland

    IE0005, 2014, Open Data

  24. Signing up to the G8 Open Data Charter

    IE0006, 2014, Open Data

  25. Implementing Open Data

    IE0007, 2014, Open Data

  26. Improve computer literacy through implementation of proposed new Digital Strategy for Schools

    IE0008, 2014, Capacity Building

  27. Review national and international practice to develop revised principles / code for public engagement/consultation with citizens, civil society and others by public bodies.

    IE0009, 2014, Public Participation

  28. Starred commitment Hold referenda arising from the recommendations of the Constitutional Convention

    IE0010, 2014, Gender

  29. Starred commitment Ethics Reform

    IE0011, 2014, Conflicts of Interest

  30. Strengthening Freedom of Information - Implement the Code of Practice for Freedom of Information (FOI).

    IE0012, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  31. Reform of FOI

    IE0013, 2014, Capacity Building

  32. Starred commitment Regulation of Lobbying

    IE0014, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  33. Starred commitment Encourage, Protect and Raise Awareness of Whistleblower Duties and Protections

    IE0015, 2014, Whistleblower Protections

  34. MEASURES TO INCREASE CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN DECISION MAKING ON POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS. Systemic pre-legislative scrutiny of draft bills

    IE0016, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  35. Develop and deliver access to environmental information (AIE) training module for public officials

    IE0017, 2014, Capacity Building

  36. INCREASE CITIZEN PARTICIPATION AT LOCAL LEVEL. Pilot approach to implementation of Public Participation Networks

    IE0018, 2014, Private Sector

  37. Provide legal base for public participation framework in local government

    IE0019, 2014, Capacity Building

  38. Undertake a feasibility study on possible means of enabling further citizen engagement in local authority budgetary processes

    IE0020, 2014, Participation in Budget Processes

  39. SUPPORT CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE AS CITIZENS. Develop, finalise and publish the first Government Strategy on children and young people's participation in decision-making.

    IE0021, 2014, Capacity Building

  40. Maximise participation and understanding of young people in civic life

    IE0022, 2014, Capacity Building

  41. Development of an ICT Strategy

    IE0023, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  42. Data sharing and governance bill

    IE0024, 2014, E-Government

  43. Public Services Card

    IE0025, 2014, E-Government

  44. Single Customer View

    IE0026, 2014, E-Government

  45. Local Government Portal

    IE0027, 2014, E-Government

  46. New Local Enterprise Offices

    IE0028, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  47. Review and enhancement of complaints procedures and using feedback to improve services across the public service; A review of citizen complaints procedures will be undertaken.

    IE0029, 2014, Public Participation

  48. Enhance customer engagement

    IE0030, 2014, Public Participation