In the delivery of public and state services, government departments either spend public money directly or grant-aid state agencies and other bodies to fund service delivery. In some instances, those same entities may grant-aid or fund further arms-length public and state bodies and non-profit entities. The ‘chain’ can thus extend quite some way from the person ultimately accountable as Accounting Officer, which is typically the Secretary General of the government department. There are also situations where the delivery of key policies and services require the active engagement and participation of several different entities and organisations around a common theme or mandate or work programme.
In light of the performance and compliance expectations which come with such ‘vertical’ funding relationships, departments and state/public bodies will put in place formal accountability and reporting mechanisms, including oversight agreements, performance delivery agreements and memorandums of understanding ( MOUs). In addition, some important ‘horizontal’ relationships may exist, where, for example, one state body is dependent on another for delivering a particular set of outputs or outcomes. Thus MoUs and service level agreements (SLAs) are ways of providing for clarity of role and responsibility, performance expectations, reporting and accountability.
It is in this context that this Forum event is being convened to consider good practices and experiences in designing and managing such relationships where public money is used and where there are important quality service delivery requirements and expectations.
Areas to be explored with the help of senior practitioners will include:
The lessons learnt and implications for horizontal and vertical relationships
The experience of oversight agreements and performance delivery agreements
Key provisions of agreements such as SLAs and MOUs
The importance of professional relationships and building rapport and trust
Mechanisms for addressing under-performance or poor reporting
Key assurances and reporting/compliance obligations
Our contributors to this event, who will share their own knowledgeable insights and perspectives, include:
Feargal Ó Coigligh, Assistant Secretary, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Pat Smyth, National Director of Finance and Corporate Services, TUSLA
Dr. Matthew Gill, Programme Director (Public Bodies), Institute for Government (UK)
The event will be moderated by Noreen Fahy, Director of Finance & Corporate Services, IPA
Noreen is Director of Finance and Corporate Services at the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) and leads and manages a large team of dedicated staff, committed to fostering best practice in public financial management, risk management, procurement and governance as required of the Institute.
Noreen, a qualified professional accountant, worked for many years in the private sector before joining the Institute in 2004 where she worked for 14 years as a Senior Finance Specialist before taking up her current position. In that time, Noreen developed strong credibility in the area of public sector finance and governance with a reputation for successful delivery of complex projects to diverse stakeholder groups.
In recognition of her governance expertise, she has been nominated to a range of governance roles and is currently the Chairperson of Fingal County Council Audit Committee and a non-executive member of the Houses of the Oireachtas Audit Committee.
Feargal Ó Coigligh
Feargal is Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, heading up the Water Division of the Department. He previously served as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht where he headed up both the Heritage and Culture Divisions of that Department in successive periods. During his time in charge of the Culture Division he had responsibility for commemorations as part of the Decade of Centenaries including the successful Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme.
In the past, he has worked on land-use planning policy, the reform of the local government system in Ireland, on modernising waste management policy - including the introduction of Europe's first levy on plastic bags, and as an adviser to the Minister for the Environment.
Pat is the National Director of Finance and Corporate Services at Tusla, the child and family agency. Throughout his career he has held senior positions in large public sector organisations and in high growth successful private sector companies.
Prior to his current appointment he served as Director of Finance in Tusla since 2012 and as interim Chief Executive Officer for Tusla in 2018/19. Other key roles he has held include Programme Manager and General Manager for the Health Service Executive (HSE), and Financial Managment roles for Golden Vale/Kerry Group PLC and Aer Rianta International.
Pat is a Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA) and holds an MBA amongst other management and project management qualifications.
Dr Matthew Gill
Matthew is a programme director leading the Institute of Government’s (UK) work on public bodies. He was policy director at the British Business Bank for over five years, including during EU exit and the pandemic. He previously helped establish the bank while leading on enterprise policy at HM Treasury. Before that, he worked in prudential policy at the Financial Services Authority and the Bank of England following the financial crisis.
Matthew began his career at PwC, where he became a chartered accountant, and holds a PhD in sociology from the London School of Economics. He has been an interdisciplinary Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in Saint Louis and is the author of Accountants’ Truth: Knowledge and Ethics in the Financial World (Oxford, 2009).