Guide to the Functions & Records of the Department - Part 4


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CONTENTS

Part 4. Functions and Records - Aireacht
4.1 Minister's Office
4.2 Secretary-General's Office
4.3 Planning Unit
4.4 Personnel Branch
4.5 Facilities Management
4.6 Accounts Branch
4.7 Internal Audit Unit
4.8 Corporate Development Section and Staff Development Unit

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Part 4. Functions and Records - Aireacht

4.1 Minister's Private Office

4.1.1 This Office provides secretarial support for the Minister as political Head of the Department of Social Protection.

4.1.2 Information Available

Information is available from the Press Office or from the Information Office on (01) 7043000.

4.1.3 Classes of Records Held

Records held in the Minister's Private Office include:

  • Government Decisions
  • Government Meeting Agendas
  • Government Memoranda
  • Minister's Diary
  • Minister's Engagements
  • Minister's Office Staff
4.2 Secretary-General's Office

4.2.1 This Office provides secretarial support for the Secretary-General in overseeing the running of the Department.

4.2.2 Information Available

Information is available from the Information Office on (01) 7043000.

4.2.3 Classes of Records Held

Records held in this Office include those relating to:

  • ESRI
  • European Institute of Social Security
  • Expenditure Review Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Management Committee
  • NESC
  • NESF
  • Partnership Committee
  • Public Accounts Committee Reports
  • Reports: SWAO; SWS; Internal Audit; Control
  • Strategic Management Initiative:
  • TLAC
4.3 Planning Unit

4.3.1 The Planning Unit is one of the divisions of the Aireacht. It is responsible for the formulation of social protection and other social support policies to meet the changing needs of Irish society and for the provision of support and advice to the Minister and the Government.

The work of the Planning Unit covers:

  • the development of departmental policy proposals;
  • undertaking research on issues relating to the Department;
  • the drafting of Legislation, Regulations and Statutory Instruments pertaining to the schemes administered by the Department; and
  • the management and provision of statistical information.

The Planning Unit also has responsibility for dealing with those agencies which operate under the aegis of the Department - Comhairle, Combat Poverty Agency, Pensions Board, Office of the Pensions Ombudsman and the Family Support Agency.

The Planning Unit is made up of the following areas:

4.3.2 EU/International Area

The EU and International area of the Planning Unit has overall responsibility for ensuring that Ireland meets its international obligations in areas of policy that come within the remit of the Department. This includes the protection of the social security rights of migrant workers and compliance with the standards on social security in international instruments to which Ireland is a party. The Unit coordinates the Department's participation in international exchanges and research in modernising and improving systems of social protection, and the use of the findings of this process, as appropriate, in the ongoing development of policy and the Department's services. The international bodies concerned include the EU, Council of Europe, United Nations, ILO and OECD. The Unit is also responsible for North/South cooperation and Bi-lateral agreements and cooperation with other countries.

4.3.3 Legislation, Court Cases and Press Office

The functions of the sections are:

  • to prepare, interpret and advise on existing legislation and proposals for amendments to legislation;
  • to provide Departmental liaison with the Chief State Solicitor's Office (CSSO) in relation to court cases initiated against the Minister or the Department; and
  • to provide a satisfactory press service to the Minister and to the Department and to provide an effective channel of communication between the Minister, the Department and the media.

4.3.4 Planning Secretariat, Library, Equality Review and Family Affairs Unit

The functions of the sections are:

  • to provide a support service to the Minister in relation to Government and Houses of the Oireachtas business;
  • to provide a library service to the Department's staff;
  • to coordinate a technical review to establish the extent to which the Social Welfare code is compatible with the Equal Status Act, 2000 (as amended);
  • to develop policy in relation to Treatment Benefits;

and in relation to the Family Affairs Unit:

  • to coordinate family policy;
  • to coordinate One Parent Family Payment Policy;
  • to support the implementation of the National Longitudinal Study of Children with the Department of Health and Children and the National Children's Office; and
  • to work with the Family Support Agency in the delivery of its responsibilities.

4.3.5 PRSI, Statistical and Incentives Sections

The functions of the sections are the production of statistical information and the developement of policy in the following areas:

  • PRSI
  • Illness/Disability
  • Maternity and related schemes (including Parental leave)
  • Child Income Support
  • Farm Assist Scheme
  • Incentive aspects of unemployment payments.

4.3.6 Social welfare income support for pensioners, carers and related areas; Programme Evaluation

The functions of the unit are to:

  • advise the Minister on policy developments in the pensions area - both social welfare and supplementary;
  • liaise with The Pensions Board, which is the statutory regulator of occupational pensions; monitor developments in this area,
  • advise the Minister on policy developments in relation to support for carers; monitor and bring forward policy proposals in all these areas;
  • draft legislation in these areas, as required; and
  • participate in EU, inter-Departmental and Pensions Board committees, as relevant.

The Unit is also responsible for the co-ordination of programme evaluation in the Deaprtment. It also provides statistical support to other areas of the Department.

4.3.7 Office for Social Inclusion

This area is responsible for:

  • Driving forward the implementation of the revised National Anti-Poverty Strategy in cooperation with the other agencies and organisations involved;
  • Developing a greater understanding of the causes of poverty and exclusion and the strategies to address it;
  • Coordinating the preparation and submission of Ireland's National Action Plan against Poverty and Social Exclusion (NAP/inclusion) and support other EU initiatives in this area; and
  • Ensuring that the particular interest groups affected by or vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion are addressed and protected in the context of the development of social welfare and related policies.

4.3.8 Budget and Finance

This functions of the section are:

  • preparation of the Budget package;
  • development of policy in relation to means testing;
  • identification of the financial resources necessary to meet the Department's programme and administrative needs; and
  • to support the management system by providing appropriate internal and external financial reporting and by ensuring accountability and control of delegated authority and responsibility.

4.3.9 Information Available

Information is available from the individual areas of the Planning Unit on (01) 7043000.

4.3.10 Classes of Records held

In addition to the records outlined at section 3.7 the Planning Unit holds records of:

  • Departmental Policy Issues;
  • Dealings with voluntary and other organisations;
  • Procedure e.g. Government Memoranda, Government decisions, correspondence, analysis, briefing material relating to the introduction of a proposal by way of an Act of the Oireachtas or Statutory Instrument;
  • Information on Directives, Regulations, Conventions and guidelines enacted at EU/International level for which the Department is responsible;
  • Information on the Department's relations/correspondence with international organisations, other EU States and countries with which Ireland has bilateral agreements on social security;
  • Reference books and other publications, statutes and administrative records.
  • Matters pertaining to estimates and operations of the Administrative Budget agreement.
4.4 Personnel Branch

4.4.1 This Branch has responsibility for the development and provision of Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations. It also manages the Employee Assistance Programme which provides confidential assistance to staff on personal matters.

4.4.2 Information Available

Information is available from:

  • Personnel Section, Áras Mhic Dhiarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1, Tel: (01) 7043000,
  • Employee Assistance Officers, Oisín House, Pearse Street, Dublin 2, Tel: (01) 6715103
  • Employee Assistance Officer, PSO, College Road, Sligo, Tel: (071) 9169984 or (01) 704 3343
  • Employee Assistance Officer, SWLO, Dominick St. Limerick, Tel: (061) 212261

4.4.3 Classes of records held

In addition to the records outlined at section 3.7 above, the Personnel Branch holds records relating to:

  • Individual Staff Members;
  • Personnel contact with Agencies under the aegis of the Department;
  • Industrial Relations;
  • Promotion;
  • Seniority;
  • Transfers;
  • Computerisation of Personnel;
  • Employment of Branch Managers;
  • Competitions;
  • Recruitment of Services staff and temporary staff;
  • Pay Issues and Allowances;
  • Performance Development;
  • Sexual Harassment (guidelines);
  • State Directory;
  • Superannuation issues; and
  • Internet Users Agreement acknowledgements.

An individual file is maintained in respect of each employee which contains papers in relation to his/her employment in this Department and includes the following:

  • Note on circulars signed at entry;
  • Probation reports;
  • Increment forms and any related reports/submissions;
  • Medical certificates and related papers;
  • Copies of minutes/reminders etc, issued by Personnel;
  • Record of VDU eye tests;
  • Offers and/or acceptances of promotion;
  • Transfer requests and acknowledgements;
  • Career/Special Leave applications/approvals;
  • Job-Sharing contracts;
  • Work-Sharing contracts;
  • Appraisal documentation;
  • Papers relating to disciplinary matters
  • Civil Service Code of Standards and Behavior acknowledgements.

Factual information about individual staff members spanning their entire career is also held in electronic and manual (Kardex) form including date of birth, date of appointment, grade at entry, date of promotions, leave, history of salary points, absences, Irish tests taken, etc.

4.5 Facilities Management

4.5.1 This area is responsible for arranging and providing a very wide range of back-up services, which varies from the provision of offices to the collection of waste. The unit supplies services to all 158 offices country-wide.

Facilities Management is divided into 4 areas with responsibilites as follows:

  • for the provision and management of accommodation and allied services and for the maintenance of buildings;
  • for security, cleaning and allied services;
  • for Health and Safety;
  • for managing archives;
  • for managing the Department's stores function;
  • for maintaining an up-to-date asset register; and
  • for managing procurement matters on behalf of the Department.

4.5.2 Information Available

Information is available from Facilities Management, Aras Mhic Dhiarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1, Tel: (01) 7043000.

4.5.3 Classes of Records held

In addition to the records outlined at section 3.7, the Administration and Property and Ancillaries Management holds records of:

  • Accommodation;
  • Equipment and Supplies;
  • Contracts with suppliers of services;
  • Fixed Asset Register;
  • National Archive Issues;
  • Health and Safety issues;
  • Business Information Protection Policy;
  • Energy Conservation;
  • Stores and stationery.
4.6 Accounts Branch

4.6.1 Accounts Branch has responsibility to make payments on programme and administrative expenditure, reconcile expenditure and provide reports to management within the Department and to the Department of Finance.

The services provided by the Accounts Branch can be categorised into two areas:

- Services provided to individuals within the Department:

  • Salaries Section which is responsible for the administration and payment of salaries to all staff of the Department in accordance with authorisation instructions from Personnel Branch; and
  • Travel and Subsistence Section which is responsible for processing staff travel and subsistence claims in accordance with the rates and procedures laid down by the Department of Finance.

- Services provided to sections throughout the Department:

  • Vote Section which has responsibility for the payment of arrears for certain scheme holders and also, for the processing of payments to suppliers for goods and services received by the Department;
  • Cashier Section which provides a remittance processing and recording service for all sections of the Department as well as details of inter-scheme payment adjustments;
  • Social Insurance Fund (SIF)/Treasury Section which monitors the collection of PRSI contributions and their transfer from the Revenue Commissioners to the Social Insurance Fund. This section also provides information and data analysis to Estimates Section and Planning Unit and produces the statutory account of the SIF;
  • Payments Reconciliation Section is responsible for ensuring that cashed payment instructions are reconciled against the Department's record of payments issued; and
  • Financial Systems Support which provides helpdesk, training and operational support to users of Oracle Financials and Corepay systems. It is also responsible for report development and administration.

4.6.2 Information Available

Information is available from Accounts Branch, Dept. of Social Protection, Government Buildings, St. Alphonsus Road, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

4.6.3 Classes of records held

In addition to the records outlined at 3.7 the Branch holds records relating to its functions as referred to at 4.6.1 above.

4.7 Internal Audit Unit (IAU)

4.7.1 The key objective of the Internal Audit Unit is to provide impartial and constructive advice and assurance to Management on matters relating to its systems of internal control, to quality of performance and to business risk.

The Internal Audit Unit (IAU) is committed to:

  • The provision of internal audit services, advice, assurance and support to management and staff via:
    - Audit reports on many business areas within the Department and the bodies under its aegis;
    - Participation in projects, committees and systems under development;
    - Liaison with External Audit and its co-ordination of Comptroller & Auditor General audit queries;
    - Review work on sanctions received from the Department of Finance;
    - Involvement in research and investigative work in association with management and staff;
    - Advice and observations on various draft proposals, guidelines, directives and via the IAU's ongoing proactive desire to continue to seek every opportunity to add value to new and changing business processes and procedures and to be always available to give constructive advice and support to management and staff.
  • Objective evaluation, prior to award, of all Department proposals to award contracts without a competitive process where such contracts are expected to exceed €25,000 in value (exclusive of VAT).
  • Working with management and staff to ensure that a strong control environment exists within the Department and to seek to maintain the optimum balances between such as:
    - Risk and Control;
    - Customer Service and Control;
    - Cost of Control versus the Benefits of Control;
    - Which Controls are essential and which are discretionary.
  • Value for Money (VFM) by continuing to advise regarding VFM issues and how to get it right up-front and on how to provide the appropriate range of services to the Department's customers in as efficient, effective and economical a manner as possible.
  • Continue to facilitate within the IAU, a culture of innovation and continuous improvement and to be always on the look out for ways to serve our customers (i.e. management and staff) better.

4.7.2 Information Available

The Unit is located at 157-164 Townsend Street, Dublin 2, Telephone (01) 7043000.

4.7.3 Classes of Records held

In addition to the records outlined at section 3.7, the Unit holds records of audits carried out.

4.8 Corporate Development Section and Staff Development Unit

4.8.1 Corporate Development has a key role in the co-ordination and facilitation of the change programme within the Department. Its activities include Partnership, Staff Consultation and Involvement, Performance Management & Staff Development, Management Support and Internal Communications.

The functions of Corporate Development are as follows:

  • To co-ordinate and progress the implementation of the modernisation programme within the Department including:
    - the provisions of the Public Service Management Act;
    - the Strategy Statement;
    - the Business Planning Process .
  • To develop and deepen the Partnership process throughout the Department and in agencies under our aegis.
  • To support and develop corporate management processes and communications with a view to enhanced decision making, information sharing and reporting.
  • To oversee implementation of the Official Languages Act in the Department.

4.8.2 Staff Development Unit is responsible (with local managers) for training and development of the Departmental staff.

4.8.3 Information Available

Information is available from Corporate Development, 157 - 164 Townsend Street, Dublin 2, Tel: (01) 7043000; and Staff Development Unit, Oisin House, Pearse Street, Dublin 2, Tel: (01) 7043000.

4.8.4 Classes of Records held

Corporate Development holds records in relation to the Department's Partnership Steering Committee and verification process under "Sustaining Progress". Staff Development Unit holds individuals training plans under PMDS, as well as training records generally.


Last modified:28/06/2010
 

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