The introduction to the Revised Estimates mentions that they “have been supplemented with key performance information regarding programme outputs and impacts”. We were also promised that information on key performance indicators would be provided in the 2019 HSE service plan and that a number of post-budget technical and policy adjustments would be included in the Revised Estimates. However, if we examine the expenditure of €66.6 billion in 42 Votes, while there is some useful information on the delivery of spending programmes, we will see the performance metrics for each Vote give little insight into the achievement of the strategy being pursued by each Department of State. That is particularly true for the €52.3 billion or 78% of total Government spending provided for in four key areas – Department of Education and Skills, Vote 26; the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Vote 34; the Department of Health, Vote 38; and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Vote 37.
This week, I started work on my Northsider Vol 27 No 1 and hope to have it with constituents towards the end of March. On Tuesday morning, I attended the Board meeting of the Coolock Development Council, of which I am a founding member. On Tuesday afternoon, I questioned the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, about the possible indexing of social protection payments. I also raised ongoing concerns about JobPath with Minister Doherty.
The budget we approved last October included €7.3 billion of capital expenditure, as the Minister noted. The allocation for capital spending since then has shown a welcome return to investment in public infrastructure. For nearly a decade since 2008, the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments kept capital spending below the 2% depreciation rate, which was an utterly disgraceful policy.
The Minister, Deputy Donohoe, might remember a few months ago I asked him about procurement systems from the Department. We had been talking about the chief procurement officer in earlier questions. I note that in the previous Government, in May 2014, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board recommended a derogation, in other words, a different two-stage approach to procurement. This is the context.
There is a budget oversight unit in the Department and there seems to have been a formal approach about that to the effect that there would have to be a two-stage procurement process.