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Chapter 1 - Introduction and Background

1.1       Introduction

This report has been prepared under section 43 (5) and section 13 of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004.

The report provides an account of an audit of the policies and practices regarding appointments made in the Houses of the Oireachtas during 2014, including internal promotions, temporary acting-up assignments and open competitions conducted under licence. 

The Commission is committed to undertaking audits in a spirit of improvement and with the goal of sharing knowledge and best practice rather than focusing solely on compliance.   

1.2       The Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004

Appointment processes to all positions within the remit of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 are subject to Codes of Practice published by the Commission.  The Codes set out the regulatory framework for such appointment processes and centre on five recruitment principles. Through its audit function, the Commission safeguards the standards established in the Codes of Practice and ensures compliance by the Office Holder with these standards for the recruitment of staff to positions within the organisation.

1.3       Houses of the Oireachtas

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (the Commission) is the statutory corporate body responsible for the running of the Houses of the Oireachtas, or the Irish Parliament (Dail Eireann, Seanad Eireann and Oireachtas Committees).  The Commission is also responsible for the administration and management of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service (the Service), which provides administrative services to the Houses of the Oireachtas and their members.

The Service is headed by the Secretary General/Clerk of the Dáil.  The functions of the Service are to provide advice and support services to the Commission, to the Houses of the Oireachtas and their Committees, and to members of the Houses.  The Service is staffed by approximately 400 civil servants of the State and 48 State industrial staff who are employed by the Commission.  There are also non-established civil service staff comprising five civilian drivers and 7 staff of Office Holders.  There are also approximately 400 (full-time equivalents) political staff working in either Leinster House or in members’ constituency offices who are employed directly by the members or the party for whom they work and who are paid by the Commission.

1.4       Purpose of the Audit

The purpose of this audit is to confirm compliance by the Office Holder with the recruitment principles and to ensure that procedures in place for managing appointment processes are designed and operated in accordance with the Code of Practice.  The audit focussed on reviewing competitions conducted during the last twelve months.

The audit entailed an examination of the competition file for each of the processes selected, together with meetings and discussions with key personnel in the Human Resources Unit of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service who have responsibility for the management of recruitment and selection in the organisation. 

1.5       Details of Work Undertaken and Areas Reviewed

The audit reviewed the following appointment processes, conducted during the period covered by the audit, for appointment to positions as:

·         Web and Digital Marketing Manager – Open competition

·         Advisory Counsel (Grade III) – Open competition

·         Senior Researcher Law –Internal Temporary Acting-Up Assignment

The audit also includes details of an internal competition for Head Usher which was examined by the Commission in November 2014 following a request for review under Section 8 of the Code of Practice.

1.6       Acknowledgements

The Commission would like to thank the personnel in the HR Recruitment Division of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service who gave their time and cooperation to this audit process.