Office of Public Works
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|Formed||15 October 1831|
|Headquarters||Jonathan Swift Street, Trim, County Meath, C15 NX36|
|Parent department||Department of Public Expenditure and Reform|
The Office of Public Works (OPW) (or ‘Board of Works’ as it has also been called) is an Irish Government Office whose primary function is to support the implementation of Government policy and advise the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the Minister of State at that Department, principally in the disciplines of property (including heritage properties) and flood risk management. The OPW has a central role in driving the Government’s property asset management reform process in respect of its own portfolio and that of the wider public service.
The OPW operates as a service provider and facilitator of expertise to Government Departments, Offices and other Agencies in the areas of:
- Estate Portfolio Management (including Heritage Services) - The OPW provides a shared service in the area of property management and property maintenance incorporating architectural, engineering, valuation, quantity surveying, project management, art and facilities management and the conservation, preservation and presentation of heritage and cultural properties.
- Flood Risk Management - The OPW is the lead agency for flood risk management in Ireland. It is responsible for developing and implementing comprehensive policies and strategies for flood risk management. It leads and co-ordinates a whole of Government approach to flood risk management across three strategic and policy areas of prevention, protection and preparedness.
In addition, the OPW provides other services including a sales facility to the public for Government publications (including the production of Iris Oifigiúil) and a shared service for elections.
The office was created on 15 October 1831, and was initially known as the Board of Works. It was formed out of the merger of the Office of the Surveyor-General for Ireland, the Barracks Board, and Navigation Board. The OPW had responsibility for the majority of heritage sites in Ireland prior to 1996. In 1996 the management of most of these sites was transferred to a separate agency, Dúchas - The Heritage Service, which adopted a stylised version of the traditional OPW logo, with the OPW changing its logo to match its new focus on its buildings and maintenance functions. In 2003 Dúchas was wound up and most of its functions are now operated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Functions not transferred to NPWS reverted to being OPW functions, which mainly relate to built heritage sites; these functions are operated under the title of "Heritage Ireland".
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has overall responsibility for the organisation. The organisation is unique in the Irish public sector, in that it is the only body other than a Department of State with a specific minister with responsibility for it, the Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief (currently Seán Canney TD). The Commissioners comprise a Chairman (Maurice Buckley) and two other Commissioners. The staff of the organisation comprise part of the Civil Service of the State.
The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland (the Board of Commissioners) and their powers, duties and functions, as conferred on them by the Public Works (Ireland) Act, 1831 and subsequent leglisation, are assigned to, and administered by, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform as the responsible head of the Board of Commissioners to Dáil Éireann. In that regard, the Office of Public Works, while a central Government Office, is a sub-office of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Office. The legal powers conferred on the Commissioners are exercisable only with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has delegated special responsibility for the OPW to the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief (Seán Canney T.D.). The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform remains responsible to Dáil Éireann for the exercise and performance of any powers and duties delegated to the Minister of State. The OPW is a scheduled Office under the Public Service Management Act, 1997, which sets out arrangements for the management of Departments and Offices and the specification of individual responsibilities and accountability at a senior level. The Chairman of the Board of Commissioners is the administrative Head of the OPW and is also the Accounting Officer for the OPW. The OPW’s Management Board, which includes the Chairman, Commissioners and senior Heads of Divisions, is the top level management group which advises the Minister and Minister of State on policy and directs the activities and functions of the Office. 
- "Dúchas to be closed down". The Digger. August 2003. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- Dáil Public Accounts Committee 24 March 2005