Dáil Éireann - Volume 569 - 25 June, 2003
Written Answers. - Departmental Staff.
Mr. McGuinness Mr. McGuinness
275. Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 124 of 12 June 2003, if he will accept that when workers are paid they are entitled to know at that time the rates of pay and hours; his views on the fact that it would be difficult if not impossible for workers to challenge hours deducted when these deductions are made in bulk weeks after the event; if, in view of the fact that deductions must be recorded on a weekly basis, workers can be given sight of the recorded hours and sign for them in the recording file each week; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that clarification  has been sought and the details of hours have been proven to be incorrect; his views on whether this system will lead to confrontation and discontent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17954/03]
Mr. Cullen Mr. Cullen
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Cullen): My Department and the majority of Departments use a standard payroll system supported by the Department of Finance centre for management and organisation development or CMOD. At present, weekly payslips on the standard CMOD designed corepay payslip provide the maximum amount of information possible within the capacity of the system involved, in terms of details of basic pay and plus payments. They also clearly denote all deductions made. Further information on rates of pay and hours worked is available from local centres.
Having regard to the wide dispersal of my Department's staff and the tight scheduling requirements of the weekly payroll system, it would be impractical to operate a system whereby individual employees' signed for their working hours. Furthermore, such a procedure would involve duplication of existing systems, where hours worked are recorded on individual time clock cards or attendance books. It is open to my Department's staff to raise any query regarding wage payments with their local centre in the first instance. In the event of failure to resolve issues locally, the matter can then be raised with either the personnel or accounts sections of my Department, as appropriate.
Mr. McGuinness Mr. McGuinness
276. Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the professional qualifications of the staff involved in the human resources section of his Department as requested in Parliamentary Question Nos. 113 and 115 of 12 June 2003; his views on the fact that staff in his audit section have no professional qualification in an area where accountants take six years to qualify; if internal audits by non-professional personnel who have served in other sections can be comprehensive and impartial; the way in which audits in any case can be conducted in an organisation, Dúchas, which does not have ledger cards or an accounting system; the way in which it is possible to audit an organisation without a set of accounts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17955/03]
Mr. Cullen Mr. Cullen
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Cullen): As indicated in my reply to Questions Nos. 113 and 115 of 12 June 2003, the staffing complement involved in human resource matters in my Department is 78. In common with arrangements across the Civil Service, the persons assigned to this work are predominantly officers in general service grades for whom specific professional qualifications are not prescribed. This is considered to provide the most appropriate mix of skills and  operational flexibility. It also allows mobility, personal development opportunities and skills transfers which would not be available to my Department if recruitment and assignments were more narrowly based on prescribed qualifications for specific posts. Nevertheless, many officers in these areas have obtained third level qualifications ranging from masters degrees in HR and IT, primary degrees in computer science and engineering and diplomas and certificates in various aspects of IT and HR to specific training tailored to the work undertaken in different operational areas.
I am satisfied that audits conducted by my Department's internal audit unit are professional, comprehensive and impartial and that its objectives, as an independent appraisal function for the review of internal control systems, are met having regard to the resources available. Internal audit work is concerned with the adequacy of internal control as a contribution to the proper, economic, efficient and effective use of resources while financial audits are generally the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General. As a consequence, I do not accept that professional accountancy qualifications are an essential requirement for all internal audit work.
The imputation in the question in relation to the professional skills of my Department's internal audit unit is not correct. The position is that a general service officer, who has a professional qualification in internal auditing and who has completed a number of courses in internal auditing, manages the unit. He also has wide experience of audit work, including experience in two other Departments. The support staff of five persons includes three officers with professional accountancy qualifications. The remaining staff have completed two external training courses in internal audit.
Dáil Éireann 569 Written Answers. Departmental Staff.