The Public Accounts Committee has today published its Fifth Periodic Report (attached) which focuses on meetings held from 20 September to 29 November 2018. It has also published its annual report for 2018 of work carried out during the year.
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 the National Asset Management Agency; The Department of An Taoiseach (regarding the President’s Establishment); Teagasc; The Office of Public Works; The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; The Higher Education Authority; The Office of the Revenue Commissioners; and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
Read the full report here
Among the Periodic Report’s conclusions and recommendations are:
The Committee recommends that NAMA puts in place a system to verify Section 172 declarations it receives for the remainder of its operation.
The acceptance by Local Authorities of just 40% of the 7,000 residential units and sites suitable for housing requires re-examination given the current housing crisis. The Committee recommends that those housing units and sites suitable for housing still available to NAMA be re-offered and reconsidered by Local Authorities.
THE PRESIDENT’S ESTABLISHMENT
The Committee recommends that the audit committee for the President’s Establishment develops a schedule of regular meetings each year.
THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC WORKS
The method of calculation of the measurement used by the Office of Public Works to determine the rent of Miesian Plaza, Baggot St, Dublin 2 was a serious error and could result in a projected over-payment of €10m during the lifetime of the lease. The Committee recommends that all Office of Public Works leases are calculated using the appropriate measurement method.
The Committee recommends that the development of business cases by the Office of Public Works in relation to major projects include a robust analysis of key options and alternatives, plus associated costs, as required under the public spending code.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC EXPENDITURE AND REFORM
Given the fact that legislation was put in place in 2013 regarding the Single Public Service Pension Scheme, it is unacceptable that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform failed to give effect to the provision in the legislation regarding employer contributions until 2016 due to a lack of advanced preparatory work.
It is not acceptable that it can take approximately six months for the Estimates to be dealt with by the Dáil despite the fact that the Budget Statement is announced every year before the 15 October in accordance with the fiscal rules.
HIGHER EDUCATION AUTHORITY
The Committee recommends that, when drafting Higher Education Authority legislation, the Department of Education and Skills ensures that the Higher Education Authority is granted sufficient powers to allow it to provide effective oversight of the third level sector.
OFFICE OF THE REVENUE COMMISSIONERS
There is insufficient clarity in relation to statements of assets by High Wealth Individuals. The Committee recommends consideration is given to requiring High Wealth Individuals to provide an annual statement of assets held in Ireland.
DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AFFAIRS AND SOCIAL PROTECTION
It is unclear to the Committee that the numbers achieving long-term full employment as a result of the JobPath programme represents value for money. The Committee recommends that the programme is reviewed on a value for money basis to determine whether the programme should continue.