Big cut in overtime bill at passport offices

Figure fell to just over €86,000 last year from €1.74m for the first nine months of 2010

The passport office on Molesworth Street in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

The passport office on Molesworth Street in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 18:14

New figures show the high levels of overtime payments at passport offices in recent years came to an end last year.

Figures provided by Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore show only €86,871 was paid in overtime at passport offices in Molesworth Street, Dublin, and in Balbriggan and Cork last year.

This compares with €762,118 in 2011, while more than €1.74 million was paid in the first nine months of 2010 as staff dealt with a backlog of nearly 71,000 applications which built up during a six-month industrial dispute.

In figures provided to Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary in a written Dáil reply, Mr Gilmore confirmed that the overtime payment of €86,871 at the three offices was in respect of 775 overtime hours recorded in 2013.

This represented a drop of 62 per cent on the €228,723 in respect of 8,212 overtime hours worked in 2012.

Mr Gilmore said: “In recent years the department has made strenuous efforts to reduce its overtime bill, particularly in the passport service, and it will be noted from the figures that there has been a substantial reduction on overtime costs between 2011 and 2013.

Full-time staff
“This has been achieved in the face of record levels of demand in 2012 and with continuing reductions in full-time staff.

“The achievement of savings in overtime costs has resulted from a number of factors, including the streamlining of existing arrangements for processing of applications at the public counters and the introduction of a scheduled appointment service.

“The old system for processing applications at public counters was a particularly time-consuming and staff-intensive feature of the service.”

He said the greater use of the Passport Express service provided by An Post has also contributed to efficiencies.

“A further significant change has been the earlier deployment of temporary staff for seasonal demand. This has resulted in better levels of efficiency and productivity being achieved in dealing with the summer peak period.”

Mr Calleary said: “There has been a sea change in passport operations in recent times which is a tribute to the staff there.”