The Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has defended his department's management of severance payments in the public sector.

The Public Accounts Committee is discussing a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General from earlier this year that found two State bodies made unapproved severance payments in the form of pension enhancements amounting to over €1m.

The report was undertaken as a result of an audit of large, one-off severance payments between 2011 and 2013.

Appearing before the PAC, Robert Watt said that while the total cash value of public service pensions amounted to €8.8bn during the period examined, the cash value of severance payments reported on was less than €7m.

Mr Watt said that they were "not blasé or complacent" about the sums involved. 

"While the money in the overall scheme is small, it is not to say that it is not important. Every euro is important."

Also appearing before the committee, Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy said there was broad compliance with the rules of schemes for such payments, with the exception of a scheme for the chief executives of State bodies.

He added that other key findings showed three schemes did not provide for a maximum amount payable and severance payments were not disclosed in financial payments.

The examination by the C&AG also looked at a number of high value, discretionary service payments where no formal scheme is in place.

"We identified 14 such payments by six public sector bodies amounting to nearly €1.5m, six of those payments amounting to €540,000 were made by the Central Bank," Mr McCarthy added.

The findings were presented in a way that does not identify individuals. 

Mr McCarthy said severance payments can be in the interest of employer and employees.