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Revealed: Data Protection Commission's pleas for more staff and 'fit-for-purpose' office

The watchdog’s pre-budget submission has been released following a Freedom of Information request.

Finance MInister Paschal Donohoe and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty.
Finance MInister Paschal Donohoe and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE DATA PROTECTION Commission’s pre-Budget submission pleaded with the government for increased staff and a ‘fit-for-purpose’ Dublin office. 

The watchdog complained this week that it was only granted a budget increase of less than a third of what it requested, despite the burden being placed on it by the demands of policing GDPR complaints from around the world. 

The DPC received at 11% increase in annual funding to €16.9 million but the watchdog had asked for a total allocation of €21.2 million. 

It said this week that it was inadequate given the DPC’s position “at the front line of global data protection regulation”.

The watchdog is currently involved in a legal wrangle with the government over its report into the Public Services Card. 

In the pre-Budget submission, released to Noteworthy and TheJournal.ie following a Freedom of Information request, the watchdog can be seen urgently seeking the funds to increase its staffing levels. 

The DPC says it had hoped to have 18o staff on the books by the end of this year but that it will have just 148 due to the “highly competitive landscape for specialist skills”.  

The watchdog is targeting staffing levels of 224, arguing it is currently way below where it should be.

On current terms, the DPC says it is seventh the largest EU data protection authority in budgetary terms, eighth in terms of staffing. 

“It is arguable the DPC should be the largest given the unique role of Ireland and the DPC in lead-supervising for the EU the world’s largest tech platforms under the GDPR,” the watchdog argues.

The scale of the demands being placed on the DPC is evident in the submission where it outlines that the number of complaints it is now handling has “more than doubled since 2017″.

“Given the role of the DPC as a Lead Supervisory Authority, the office carries a disproportionate burden of the EU’s collective effort to regulate the data processing activities of global tech giants which are active in the European market,” the DPC argues. 


The accommodation facilities for the DPC has previously proven to be somewhat of an embarrassment for Ireland after international media highlighted its small office location beside a convenience store in Portarlington. 

Currently, the DPC still maintains that office but also has two offices in Dublin at temporary locations.

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court-to-rule-on-facebook-privacy The Data Protection Commissioner's office in Portarlington. (Pic: 2014) Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

In its pre-Budget submission, the DPC says it is “critical” that a permanent base is found in the capital, suggesting that the current facilities are not up to the expectations of major tech firms

“The need for a fit-for-purpose permanent city-centre Dublin head office, reflecting international stakeholders’ expectations of the DPC and which is capable of housing all current and future Dublin based staff, has been a critical requirement for some time,” the DPC states.

The urgency of a new premises arises in particular from the constant national and international media focus and negative commentary on the standard and location of the DPC’s offices, as well as from the significant costs of maintaining temporary office locations as the DPC continues to expand in size and the operational impact for the DPC of operating across multiple locations.

The DPC acknowledges that there is a “highly constrained Dublin office property rental market” but that a “potentially suitable permanent premises” has been identified .

It says the OPW is currently evaluating the premises “with a view to entering into lease negotiations”.

“It is anticipated that the property concerned will be available for occupation by late 2020,” the DPC states.

- With reporting by Ken Foxe of Noteworthy

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Rónán Duffy

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