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PAC Chair statement: 6th Periodic Report

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The Public Accounts Committee has today published its 6th Periodic Report which focuses on selected matters arising from engagements of the Committee of Public Accounts from October 2018 to May 2019. The report provides a special focus on matters related to Broadband Provision, the National Paediatric Hospital Development and on Housing Matters.

The Committee examined issues emerging from financial statements audited, and matters reported on, by the C&AG. The Committee has considered the evidence presented and has arrived at a number of conclusions and recommendations for further actions.

In relation to matters considered in this report, the Committee held meetings  with a number of bodies including the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government,  Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment,  Department of Education and Skills,  Irish Prison Service,  Waterford and Sligo Institutes of Technology, University of Limerick, National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, Department of the Taoiseach,  Offices of the Attorney General, Director pf Public Prosecutions and the Chief State Solicitor and Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board.

Read full report here:

The Periodic Report’s conclusions and recommendations relate to a number of areas including:

Housing Matters

The system for gathering information by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in relation to housing provision is not satisfactory. The Committee recommends that the Department immediately improves the system to provide comprehensive information in respect of all housing provision and that this information is published on a monthly basis

The spending of 27% of the housing budget in 2017 on housing supports such as HAP and RAS does not represent value for money. The Committee recommends that the Department reviews current policies to ensure that long-term value for the State is created in housing provision.

Matters Relating to the Provision of Broadband

The procurement process for the National Broadband Plan may have partly deterred parties interested in tendering for the project from doing so. The Committee recommends that a review of the procurement process for the National Broadband Plan is undertaken by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to inform future procurement processes and ensure maximum competition.

It is unacceptable that significant changes resulting in a major escalation of estimated costs for the National Broadband Plan were made without a new Cost-Benefit Analysis being carried out. The Committee recommends that a new Cost-Benefit Analysis is performed before the final contract is signed to ensure that the full costs, including implementation, are known.

National Paediatric Hospital Development

The Committee finds it absolutely unacceptable that nobody can give a reasonable, accurate estimate of the expected final costs for the completion and fitting out of the National Children’s Hospital. The Committee recommends that in future no contract is signed for a significant capital project without a fully detailed design supported by a proper cost estimate.

The two phase tender process was a very significant contributing factor in the overall cost escalation of the National Children’s Hospital. The decision to bring the main contractor onto the site to complete Phase A before the detailed design for Phase B had been submitted was also a significant contributing factor to the cost escalation of the project. The Committee recommends that the two phase tender process is not used in future for any major capital expenditure projects unless both phases of the project are fully designed in advance.

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