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Councils under fire for flouting tender rules

LOCAL authorities have spent millions of euro of taxpayers' money without putting contracts out to the market to get best value.

The local government auditor has criticised councils for awarding contracts without putting them out to tender, contrary to Department of Finance guidelines.

All public contracts over €50,000 must be advertised in national newspapers and on a dedicated website, but councils are routinely flouting the rules.

Sligo County Council was criticised for "unacceptable practices" where orders for services were placed by junior officials without being checked by senior management.

A complaint was also made to OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, by the border, midland and western regional assembly, after an audit found that the amounts paid to contractors on four schemes were between 65pc and 127pc higher than they should have been.

Reports by the local government auditor also show:

  • Monaghan County Council paid €2.5m to a contractor for environmental services, but the job wasn't publicly advertised.
  • A road in Wexford, costing €5.6m, was built without being advertised, and there were "several other breaches" of the tendering process.

Meanwhile, county councillors spent tens of thousands of euro attending conferences but didn't submit a report to their colleagues on the proceedings, despite being required to by law.

The auditor also found that staff and elected members of some councils failed to submit statutory declarations of their property interests, even after repeated warnings.

Concern was also raised about the value of sending councillors to conferences. Clare county and Limerick city spent almost €70,000 on five separate conferences.

Irish Independent