Public bodies asked for higher salaries for senior roles after recruitment competitions failed to find qualified candidates

The Department of Public Expenditure had to approve payment of €14,367 annual allowances for two senior state roles after separate recruitment campaigns failed to find a suitable applicant.

Both the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) and regulator CORU had been looking for new chief executives last year with a starting salary of just over €100,000 on offer for both posts.

Last August, the senior position at the HIA was advertised with the pay offered on the principal officer (higher) scale, which now starts at €106,187 and rises to €130,951 during a person’s service.

However, the recruitment campaign was unsuccessful in finding somebody suitable for their most senior post.

In a letter, the Department of Public Expenditure said they would agree to add a €14,581 director’s allowance to the position in the hope of finding the ideal candidate.

A letter in December said: “Having regard to the expansion of the HIA in recent years, the increasing complexity of the role, and the unsuccessful recruitment campaign at the existing level, the consent of Minister [Paschal Donohoe] is hereby provided for recruitment to the post at Director level.”

The post was readvertised last month with the consultancy firm Mazars hired to help attract candidates.

It was the same story at CORU, the body responsible for regulating health and social care professionals.

Their efforts to attract a new CEO on a salary scale with starting pay of what was €102,567-a-year – prior to the latest round of pay restoration – also failed.

A letter from the Department of Public Expenditure last November said: “I refer to your correspondence regarding the vacancy at Director Level in CORU due to an unsuccessful recruitment campaign, with the post currently being filled by way of an interim CEO.”

It said sanction to fill the role was being granted on the salary scale of €106,187 to €130,951 with an additional €14,367 in a director’s allowance.

“All costs should be met from existing resources,” said the department.

There was also a significant pay boost for another role in the public sector, as the National Standards Authority of Ireland sought a Director of Medical Services due to the resignation of an employee.

The job was supposed to be offered at Senior Principal Scientific Officer level, which would have commanded a salary starting at €115,392 rising to a maximum of €132,871 during service.

However, the Department of Public Expenditure agreed to bump the position up to Assistant Secretary Level, which instead has a salary scale of between €156,472 and €178,995.