E-Vetting solution for garda vetting is underway

Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter the current waiting time for Garda vetting applications to be processed; and if this will reduce over the next six months.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): By way of background to the Deputy’s question, I wish to advise that the number of vetting applications received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) each year has risen from 187,864 in 2007 to 327,903 in 2012 and it is expected that there will be upwards of 350,000 applications this year.

It is essential that the GCVU has the resources required to perform this most critical of roles effectively and I have given this matter particular priority. In that regard I have been actively engaged with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. As a result of that engagement, I am pleased to say that the Commissioner has confirmed to me that there are now 134 whole-time equivalent staff (130 civilians and 4 members of the Garda Síochána) assigned to the GCVU, some 41 of whom have been redeployed from elsewhere in the public service since the end of March 2013. Some of these redeployed staff have only recently completed their training in the vetting process, and the full impact of their work will be seen in the coming weeks. Furthermore, I have also recently received sanction for the redeployment of 40 additional staff to the GCVU. This brings the total number of staff in that service to over 170 which, when compared to the average staff allocation of 78 at the Unit over the past two and a half years, represents an increase of 117%.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the current average processing time for applications is now approximately 9 weeks from date of receipt. However, seasonal fluctuations and the necessity to seek additional information on particular applications can result in this processing time being exceeded on occasion. Nevertheless this is a significant improvement on the processing time of 14 weeks which existed in July this year. In the interest of fairness and equity, Garda vetting applications are processed in chronological order based on the date of receipt in the GCVU and all organisations registered for Garda Vetting are aware of the processing time-frames for the receipt of Garda vetting and have been advised to factor this into their recruitment and selection process.

Development of an e-Vetting solution is also underway. This will facilitate the processing of all applications in an e-format, thus removing the time-consuming current process of manually managing all applications received. The initial phase of testing this e-vetting system will take place in the fourth quarter of 2013. When this is achieved, this system will streamline the overall vetting process in this jurisdiction, and further contribute to reductions in processing times for all vetting applications.