Research Papers 2020

Synopsis: Below you will find details of Research Publications which have been prepared by the Research and Information Service (RaISe) for the Committee for Finance in 2020.

Pilot Project - Proactive Committee Use of Departmental Forecasting & Outturn Data

- Date: 03/12/2020

This Briefing Paper outlines the terms of reference for new work undertaken by the Public Finance Scrutiny, located in the Finance and Economics Team of the Assembly’s Research and Information Service (RaISe). This venture - entitled “Pilot Project -Proactive Use of Departmental Forecasting & Outturn Data” - aims to further support Assembly committees in their budget-related roles and responsibilities; encouraging a more proactive and holistic approach.

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Roles and Remits of Independent Fiscal Institutions: United Kingdom and Ireland

- Date: 12/11/2020

Over the last decade, there has been considerable growth internationally in the number of Independent Fiscal Institutions (IFIs). Northern Ireland (NI) is now the only part of the United Kingdom (UK) or the Republicof Ireland (RoI) that does not have such a body providing independent fiscal analysis or surveillance. This Paper provides information relating to the proposed Independent Fiscal Council for Northern Ireland (IFCNI), placing the proposal within a broader comparative context.

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Department of Finance and Dilapidations Claims – An Overview

- Date: 13/10/2020

Before the Assembly’s summer recess, the Committee for Finance (CfF) commissioned this briefing paper from the Assembly’s Research and Information Service (RaISe). The paper is to inform the Committee’s consideration of dilapidations claims made by Landlords against the Department of Finance (DoF) throughout 2016 – early September 2020.

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2020-21 In-year Monitoring of Public Expenditure – First Round: Supporting Assembly Committees in their Advisory & Scrutiny Roles

- Date: 13/10/2020

The Department of Finance (DoF) has started its first round of in-year public expenditure monitoring for the current financial year; directed by its Guidelines, dated 5 May 2020, which subsequently were issued to all departments. This briefing paper seeks to both inform and facilitate Assembly statutory committees and the Assembly’s Audit Committee (AAC), a standing committee, when: (i) Engaging on monitoring round returns to be made to the DoF by the departments and the relevant bodies; and later, (ii) Scrutinising information and data included in those returns (scrutiny role) Throughout, potential scrutiny points are identified for consideration and use by individual committees.

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Standarised Scrutiny Approach: Assembly Statutory Committees engaging on forthcoming Executive Budget 2020-21

- Date: 13/10/2020

This Briefing Paper seeks to inform statutory committee scrutiny of the forthcoming draft Executive Budget 2020-21. It supplements the earlier RaISe briefing (NIAR 15-20), which sought to focus and coordinate committee engagement with departments on budget planning for 2020-21. It now seeks to inform committee scrutiny deliberations, by securing timely, relevant and consistent departmental information and data for both the current year’s Budget and the next year’s (2020-21). It aims to do this through the use of a committee-agreed template, which is to be disseminated by individual committees via their Clerks; and then completed and returned by appropriate officials working in individual departments.

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Personal Protective Equipment: ‘make and buy’ in Scotland

- Date: 17/09/2020

This Briefing Note explains Scotland’s ‘make and buy’ approach to sourcing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during Covid-19. It provides information underpinning that approach, including data on the dramatic increase in demand for PPE in Scotland related to Covid-19. Publicly available information about Scottish PPE procurement is limited. This Note therefore relies heavily on a report published by the Scottish Government in June 2020, and information provided directly to the Research and Information Service (RaISe) by a senior Scottish Government official.

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Functioning of Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill

- Date: 04/06/2020

This paper has been prepared to inform consideration of the Functioning of Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, a Private Member’s Bill that completed its second stage on 16 March. The Bill has 15 clauses and one Schedule and addresses a range of policy objectives, primarily in relation to the conduct of special advisers and ministers. This paper makes comparisons, where appropriate, with arrangements in other legislatures in the UK and Ireland. It draws on two other recent RaISe papers: Special Advisers: Appointment and Conduct (February 2020) and Investigations into alleged breaches of ministerial codes (March 2020).

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Assembly Committees: Coordinated Budget Scrutiny

- Date: 01/05/2020

This Briefing Paper updates Briefing Paper NIAR-116-20, issued on 21 April 2020. The update is based on: data provided in return template replies from the Departments of Health and Economy, received after initial paper was compiled; and, other Executive Budget timetable developments, notified to the Committee for Finance on 24 April. The paper aims to support coordinated Assembly scrutiny of the Executive Budget 2020-21. It draws on departmental template returns, other accessible departmental data and past papers compiled by RaISe PFSU.

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Centralisation reforms of public procurement in the Republic of Ireland and Scotland

- Date: 03/03/2020

This Briefing Paper provides background information to the Public Accounts Committee, ahead of its forthcoming consideration of the Northern Ireland Audit Office’s (NIAO’s) examination of major capital projects in NI. It begins with a summary of current NI public procurement structures, before reviewing the current arrangements in Republic of Ireland and Scotland. A section on public sector efficiency is also included given the prominence afforded to savings figures in procurement reform publications.

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Special Advisers: Appointment and Conduct

- Date: 21/02/2020

This briefing paper has been prepared in response to a request from the Finance Committee for a comparison of the Northern Ireland Code of Appointment and Code of Conduct for Special Advisers to those of other jurisdictions.

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Assembly Committee Engagement on 2020-21 Departmental Budget Planning

- Date: 21/02/2020

This Briefing Paper aims to support Assembly committee engagement on departmental budget planning for the new budget year, 2020-21. It highlights unique circumstances impacting on the formulation 2020-21 Executive Budget. Many are due to Northern Ireland’s Public Finance Framework under devolution (the rules), and are not within the immediate control of departments, nor the Executive. Despite challenges arising from current circumstances, this Paper is an effort both to improve openness and transparency in on-going departmental budget planning for 2020-21, and to ultimately increase government accountability through informed committee scrutiny. The Paper seeks to strategically coordinate and focus committee engagement on the Budget. Providing background information, it draws relevant linkages and identifies potential generic issues for committees’ consideration and use.

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