Ryan under fire as firm wins €0.5m contract on postcodes
THE company that recommended the introduction of a postcode system has now been awarded the contract to oversee its establishment.
The Irish Independent has learned that PA Consulting has been awarded a €560,000 contract by the Department of Communications.
This is the same company which recently compiled a report for the department's minister, Eamon Ryan, and recommended the setting up of a national postcode system.
It advised that the new system would save public bodies -- including the emergency services -- upwards of €22m because it enables cross-departmental sharing of public data and information.
However, Mr Ryan admitted that "benefits of such a type of system cannot be accurately gauged in monetary terms".
Last night, the Labour Party accused Mr Ryan of pushing ahead with a system that was "out of date and cumbersome".
A total of 11 offers were received for the two-year consultancy contract -- but last night the department said the package received from PA Consulting "scored the highest of all applicants against selected criteria".
The new postal system will cost between €10m and €15m to implement, with PA Consulting -- a UK-based company -- advising a company on their work. This is in contrast to an earlier 'postcodes board' set up by former Communications Minister Noel Dempsey which predicted an overall introduction cost of €50m.
"A company has not yet been appointed for the actual implementation of the new system," a spokeswoman for the department said last night.
"As part of their work, PA will consider practical issues re implementation and assist the department in that regard."
Mr Ryan also said a locational code system will "unlock the potential across government departments for use of this spatial data for policy planning".
However, the Ordnance Survey has been compiling a spatial planning system for over a year.
It is envisaged that the new six-digit system will be operational from early 2011.
For example, Dublin 4 changing to D04 123 -- with the last three digits specific to the local area.
Outside of Dublin, counties will follow the car licence plate system with for example, Galway becoming GAL 123 and Athlone town changing to ATH 123. However, the changes will provoke debate in Gaeltacht areas where the likes of Dingle/Daingean obviously have a different front three initials.
Liz McManus, Labour's spokeswoman on communications, said the latest technology should be used in the implementation of any postcode scheme.
"We have proposed using a unique identifier system which is compatible with GPS," she said.
"We are the last in and we should at least be the best. The minister is stuck in a time warp and is planning to spend all this money at a time when we simply don't have it."
Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar said an Oireachtas committee had recommended the introduction of a GPS-based system which was already available via sat-nav companies.