Friday 6 December 2019

Eircode report firm gets almost €1m consultancy fees

NUMBERS GAME: Post codes
NUMBERS GAME: Post codes

Paul O'Donoghue

The firm which advised the Government introduce the controversial Eircode postal system has netted almost €1m in consultancy fees after recently landing a second contract to oversee the establishment of the network.

PA Consulting compiled a report for the former Minister of Communications Eamon Ryan recommending that the government set up the national postcode system, saying that it could save the State upwards of €20m by allowing departments to share information.

The UK-based firm was subsequently awarded a two-year contract for project management services worth €560,000 in 2010. New figures released by the Department of Communications show that the company has also landed a second contract for technical advice on the project which is worth €336,000.

The Department paid out just over €806,000 to PA Consulting from September 2010 to March of this year for project management services. The firm have also taken in €135,578 since April for technical advice.

A spokesman for the Department said that the first contract was "extended for six month as the procurement took longer than expected because of the project complexity."

Four offers were made for the second contract, but the Department said that PA Consulting "best met the criteria set out in the request for tender". The contract is due to run until July 2015.

A spokeswoman for PA Consulting declined to comment on either of the contracts, saying: "Our work for clients is confidential."

An estimated 2.2m addresses will be assigned a new seven digit postcode under the system, which is due to be introduced in mid 2015.

Just under €4.35m has been spent by the Government on the project so far, which is estimated to cost a total of €27m. The majority of that figure went to outsourcing giant Capita, which was awarded the main contract to roll out the codes nationwide.

The State previously ran into controversy when tendering for Eircode as firms with an annual turnover of less than €40m were blocked from bidding.

This resulted in a rap over the knuckles for the Government when Cork-based Loc8 Code, which has a sequential code to identity locations, complained to the EU Commission. The Commission found that allowances should have been made for smaller firms, and warned the State "to avoid similar errors in future."

Eircode has also faced strong criticism due to the fact that the codes assigned will all be randomised. The Freight Transport Association of Ireland says that this means that it will be useless to its members, while the chairman of the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association John Kidd went further, saying that the randomised nature of the system could cause confusion for first responders and "cost lives".

Sunday Indo Business

Also in Business