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Thursday 2 October 2014

New HSE accounting system 'would track cost overruns and avert errors'

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 22/10/2013 | 05:00

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HEALTH Minister James Reilly is set to seek permission from the Public Expenditure Minister for a new multimillion-euro accounting system to track cost overruns in the HSE's budget.

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His department has promised that safeguards would be put in place to ensure there was no repeat of the HSE's PPARs payroll project – which increased in cost from €9m to €200m and led to one worker getting paid €1m in error.

The HSE still has no centralised system to track costs in the 11 former health boards that it took over in 2004.

There are eight separate financial systems and data has to be complied together before it can get an accurate picture of its €13bn budget.

And the HSE itself has admitted its financial staff spend 60pc of their time "ticking and totting" figures from the different systems.

The HSE confirmed that a business case for a new financial system for the HSE is currently being prepared for submission to Mr Howlin's department. It said that if it got approval, it would then put the contract out to tender.

However, it was unable to say when the business case would be completed.

Although the HSE has not revealed how much the new system will cost, the price is expected to run into millions.

It comes at a time when up to €1bn in health cuts are due to be implemented next year.

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But the Dail's Public Accounts Committee said in a recent report that the lack of a proper system was key contributor to the HSE's inability to deliver a balanced budget.

A spokesman for Dr Reilly gave assurances that there would be more safeguards in place to make sure there was no repeat of the cost overruns and errors in the PPARS system.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said that the new system would have to get the approval of the Government's Chief Information Officer Bill McCluggage to go ahead.

Irish Independent

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