Minister McGrath publishes Supporting Excellence: Capital Project and Programme Review Delivery

Published on: 03 March 2021

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD has welcomed the publication of Supporting Excellence: Capital Project and Programme Delivery Review.

The report was produced by EY for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and funded by the European Commission’s Structural Reform Support Programme. It is a key interim output for the ongoing Review of the National Development Plan  which is aimed at developing, implementing, and sustaining best-in-class public infrastructure delivery.

The Government is committed to public capital investment as both a stabiliser and stimulus in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Investment is set to increase significantly over the coming years as part of the revised National Development Plan, and it is opportune to assess whether capacity across public service bodies is keeping pace with these increased investment levels.

The Supporting Excellence Report will have important implications for public infrastructure delivery in the public service in Ireland, both through accessing the skills and capabilities that are already in place across Government Departments and agencies, and through promoting a culture of professionalisation and capacity-development in the public sector more generally. This year the capital budget will increase to €10.8 billion which represents over 5% of GNI* and compares very favourably in size to other EU countries.  It therefore opportune to assess whether capacity across public service bodies is keeping pace with these increased investment levels.

The Report identifies a range of strengths and weaknesses in the public capital delivery system. It highlights that there are many examples of best practice throughout the public service but there are also some areas where enhancements are required. Many of the solutions being proposed in the report are supportive of the reform agenda already underway, including developing an external assurance review process for major infrastructure projects and connecting construction professionals; while other recommendations address a need for clear and coordinated supports from the centre.

Speaking at the launch Minister McGrath said: “I’m delighted to publish Supporting Excellence today. It will inform the ongoing Review of the National Development Plan, and ensure that we as a country and as a public service can deliver on the revised Plan effectively.

“Investing in Infrastructure is at heart of the Government’s strategy for leading the country out of the Covid-19 crisis and providing a better quality of life for all our people. Well targeted investment has the ability to be transformational for society and it is absolutely essential we get value for money for the significantly increased capital budget which will be at an all-time record level in 2021.

“In order to do this we need to ensure all Government Departments and agencies tasked with delivering these vital projects have the capacity, capability and appropriate governance structures in place to do so efficiently and effectively. The EY report has provided important guidance in this regard.
“We are now moving onto the implementation phase of the report. My Department is now convening the Supporting Excellence Action Team so that the momentum for implementating the report’s findings can be carried forward alongside the NDP Review.

“I look forward to receiving the report from the Supporting Excellence Action Team which is tasked with setting out an implementation roadmap this summer.

“The funding provided by the European Commission through their Structural Reform Support Programme underlines the fundamental importance of this report and its critical contribution to successful infrastructure delivery in Ireland.”The EY report forms part of an extensive programme of actions we are taking to ensure we get the maximum impact from the capital budget. This will include changes to the Public Spending Code to strengthen assurance of major projects over €100m and composition of the Project Ireland 2040 Delivery Board.”

EY’s Head of Government and Infrastructure, Shane MacSweeney said: “Converting ambitious policy intent into the physical delivery of infrastructure assets for the benefit of the public is critical. 

“The scale of the NDP presents a significant opportunity for collaboration within the public service to leverage existing capability, achieve synergies of scale and to co-ordinate responses to industry challenges. 

“Advances in technology highlight the need to develop a culture of innovation. Sustainable infrastructure must be delivered to reflect consumer trends and to meet the State’s climate objectives.

“When looking to other jurisdictions to understand how they have supported the delivery of capital programmes, there are many potential national solutions and initiatives that could be of benefit to Ireland’s delivery of the NDP.