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Chapter 8. Resourcing the Inquiry: Staffing and Costs

8.1 A parliamentary inquiry of the scale of the Banking Inquiry is a complex project and requires significant behind-the-scenes work to support the public hearings leading to the final report.

Recruitment and selection of the investigation team

8.2 The Inquiry required very specific and wide-ranging expert skillsets to conduct the investigation phase, to advise the Joint Committee in the conduct of public hearings, and to support the drafting of the report. The Joint Committee decided that a recruitment / head-hunting approach would be the best fit for the diverse needs of the Inquiry.
8.3 Recruitment and selection of the team was challenging, due to –

  1. novelty of the roles and the contractual arrangements – in order to enable a head-hunting approach, staff were employed on fixed-term contracts as “unestablished civil servants”.
  2. tight timescales to get the team in place – investigation team management took up duty on 1 December 2014, and the balance of the team members were mostly in place by early February 2015.
  3. need to balance requirement for experience, knowledge and skills with the clear potential for conflict of interest – the Joint Committee had the final say in assessing conflict and its approval was required for all contract investigator appointments.
  4. requirement to obtain various external sanctions to engage fixed-term contract employees – three separate approvals were required:
    • approval of terms and conditions (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Civil Service HR Policy Division).
    • approval of appointment of staff numbers at pay levels above the grade of Principal Officer (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Expenditure Policy Evaluation and Management Division).
    • approval for the proposed recruitment approach (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Civil Service HR Policy Division and the Commission for Public Service Appointments “CPSA”).
8.4 The Houses of the Oireachtas Service engaged an executive search & selection company to support recruitment of the investigation team commencing in mid-October 2014. The selection process was a three to four stage process with all appointments being approved by the Joint Committee:

  • Preliminary interview with recruiter (where applicable).
  • Interview with the Lead Investigators and Houses of the Oireachtas Service.
  • Interview with the Chairman of the Joint Committee.
  • Approval by the Joint Committee of the recommended appointment on the basis of the Chairman’s recommendation, candidate CV/profile and declaration of interest form.
8.5 The Joint Committee adopted a process for assessing conflict which included the completion by candidates of a declaration of interest form. A small number of candidates were not approved by the Joint Committee for appointment to investigator roles on the basis of conflict with the terms of reference of the inquiry based on their prior work experience and/or declaration. A key concern was that no team member should have worked in a senior management or key decision-making role in any of the institutions being inquired into by the Joint Committee through oral and written evidence.

Support for members of the Joint Committee: Banking Inquiry Parliamentary Assistants

8.6 Each member of the Joint Committee was entitled to employ a parliamentary assistant to provide the required support to the member in his/her capacity as a member of the Inquiry63.Every member of the Joint Committee availed of this entitlement.
8.7 The Joint Committee agreed a protocol to govern interaction and contact between members, their parliamentary assistants and the investigation team, including escalation to the Joint Committee and Chairman, during the Nexus Phase.

Management and organisational structure

8.8 The team of approximately 50 support staff comprised a secretariat, a team of investigators and a legal team. Resources were scaled up or down as needed during the various phases.

Figure 8.1: Banking Inquiry Organisation Chart

Steering Group
Chaired by Joint Committee Chairman
Inquiry Coordinator Senior Investigator
Legal adviser Press Officer Inquiry Manager Joint Committee Clerk Project manager Lead Investigator Lead Investigator
Legal team Joint Committee secretariat Investigation team
8.9 The secretariat comprised staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service who provided general administrative support, procedural advice and communications support services to the Joint Committee.
8.10 The investigation team provided technical knowledge and expertise to assist the Joint Committee across the three main streams of the Inquiry terms of reference. Team members had backgrounds and experience in the areas of banking, financial regulation, and public service policy. The Senior and Lead Investigators were accountable to the Joint Committee for the investigation process. They were supported by a team of investigators comprising staff recruited on fixed-term contracts linked to the duration of the inquiry and civil servants seconded from relevant Departments.
8.11 The in-house legal team comprised a legal adviser from the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Adviser, along with a team of lawyers recruited on fixed-term contracts linked to the duration of the inquiry. An external legal team of three Senior and two Junior Counsel provided additional capacity and advice where needed.
8.12 Oversight and management of the Nexus Phase of the Inquiry was supported through a Steering Group, which met weekly and also held twice-weekly conference calls.

Figure 8.2: Banking Inquiry Steering Group

  • Ciarán Lynch TD, Chairman of the Joint Committee
Secretariat Lead Investigators
  • Elaine Gunn, Inquiry Coordinator
  • John Hamilton, Clerk to the Joint Committee
  • Máirín Devlin, Inquiry Manager
  • Carmel Considine, Projects Manager
  • Peter Murray, Senior/Lead Investigator, Banking Stream
  • Helen Bunbury, Lead Investigator, Regulatory and Supervisory Stream
  • Pat McLoughlin, Lead Investigator, Crisis Management and Policy Responses Stream
Legal adviser Press Officer
  • Cathy Egan BL
  • Ciarán Brennan
8.13 Expert support for the Context Phase of the Inquiry was provided by FTI Consulting in conjunction with Professor Karl Whelan, UCD, who were selected following an open tendering process. Expert support for the Relevant Proposal (scoping) Phase was provided on a pro bono basis by the following: Pat Casey, Paul Gorecki, Megan Greene, Cathal Guiomard, Conor McCabe, Colm McCarthy, Seamus McCarthy, Rafique Mottiar and John Shaw.

Resourcing of future inquiries

8.14 The 2013 Act has put in place a framework which is of general application for all future Oireachtas Committee inquiries into matters of significant public importance. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform during the Second Stage debate on the 2013 Act064 said:“under the [Bill], responsibility is assigned exclusively to the Houses of the Oireachtas to determine the requirement for a formal inquiry, the terms of reference of that inquiry, the appropriate committee to conduct the inquiry and the procedural and organisational aspects of the inquiry.”
8.15 If they are to conduct effective inquiries, Oireachtas Committees need a resourcing model which will provide a flexible framework for scoping of inquiries, development of terms of reference and quick delivery of relevant expertise to Committees who have been established as Part 2 inquiries.
8.16 The Banking Inquiry was a pioneering exercise and had to build everything from scratch. The Joint Committee acknowledges that future inquiries may be more modest in their scale and ambition but believes that the basic model of the Banking Inquiry can be scaled up or down to effectively support most inquiries.

Figure 8.3: Basic Inquiry Resourcing Model

Head of Inquiry
Investigation Team Committee secretariat Legal Team
Head of Investigation (Project Manager) Committee Clerk Inquiry Manager Legal adviser to Joint Committee
Team leaders (subject experts) Meetings team Document team In-house Legal team
Team 1 Press team Witness team External team (SC)
Team 2 HR and budget
8.17 The Joint Committee recommends that the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission should agree an optimum staffing structure and terms and conditions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to provide the necessary expert investigator and legal support for Committee inquiries in the next and future Dáileanna.
8.18 The Joint Committee further recommends that the Commission should engage with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to secure the necessary flexibility for the Oireachtas to recruit expert support. This would include –

  1. removal of the grade ceiling on Commission staff appointments above Principal Officer level for fixed-term contract staff engaged for inquiries, and
  2. removal of the requirement to seek an Excluding Order from the CPSA for staff employed to support inquiries.

Costs of the Inquiry

8.19 As the first inquiry under the 2013 Act, the Banking Inquiry incurred a number of once-off, establishment costs. These included the development of a document management system to organise the significant volumes of documentation and evidence received by the inquiry.
8.20 The inquiry also required suitably secure accommodation adjacent to Leinster House. This required work to be conducted by the Office of Public Works in setting up the Inquiry Support Centre in Agriculture House, along with some adjustments to the layout of Committee Room 1 in LH2000 to facilitate the conduct of public hearings.

Figure 8.4: Inquiry set up, preparation and establishment estimated costs €000

1 Staffing and recruitment 468
2 External Legal Advice 56
3 ICT Systems development and set up 369
4 Accommodation fit-out 174
5 Miscellaneous 3
Total 1,070
8.21 The Inquiry running costs consisted in the large part of the salaries of support staff for the Joint Committee and members (some 83% of the total), along with external legal advice and public hearing costs.

Figure 8.5: Inquiry running costs (see figure 8.6 for graphic representation) €000

1 Inquiry Staffing 4,543
  • Secretariat and in-house legal team
  • Investigation team
  • Members’ staff


2 External Services 506
  • Context team
  • External legal team
3 Public Hearings costs 321
4 Web and Publication costs 65
5 Witness expenses 15
6 Miscellaneous 48
Total65 5,498


Figure 8.6 Running costs of the Banking Inquiry by category


Chapter 8 Footnotes
63.   SI 564 of 2014 Oireachtas (Ministerial And Parliamentary Offices) (Secretarial Facilities) (Banking Inquiry) Regulations 2014
64.   22-May-13
65.   Costs Include all costs incurred to 31 December 2015 and addiional estimated costs to the date of reporting in January 2016.


Appendix 1: Context Phase Themes

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