CIPFA urges Ireland to go further on governance reform

1 Sep 15

CIPFA has backed a series of public sector governance changes proposed by the Irish government to improve transparency, but the institute also said Ireland could go further to enhance departmental accountability.

Its contribution to the Irish Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s consultation on revised public sector disclosure and ethical standards welcomed the steps being taken to coordinate governance.

Reforms proposed include the creation of a Public Sector Standards Commissioner, which would replace the Standards in Public Office Commission and oversee a reformed complaints and investigations process for central government departments.

The proposed legislation will also create a new broad definition of public official and introduce graduated disclosure requirements across the public sector. This will include a strengthening of the requirement for ad-hoc disclosures in the case of any actual or perceived conflict of interest arising in the performance of a function.

Responding to the plans, CIPFA Ireland chair Jim Kelly said he welcomed the draft standard.

“We believe there are many valid points included that will help to improve governance in central government departments; however, we believe the draft standard could be enhanced further.”

Among CIPFA’s recommendations is a call for existing departmental management boards to take on expanded leadership roles. This should include the appointment of independent board members to provide objectivity and challenge in departments.

In addition, every board should include a qualified accountant as a full member to advise on strategic and operational financial management matters and act as a check against risky projects.

Today’s submission also called for improved training to enable politicians and staff to improve their understanding of governance in public bodies, their roles and responsibilities and how these should operate in practice.

The submission comes as the institute prepares to host an event on 2 September in Dublin to promote good governance by highlighting International Federation of Accountants/CIPFA accounting standards.

“CIPFA is happy to advise, in any way we can, on how to strengthen the standard and build governance capacity and capability in central government departments in Ireland,” Kelly added.

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