Friday 20 September 2019

IBTS spent €9.3m on IT upgrade 'disaster'

Patricia McDonagh

THE Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) spent over €9.3m on an IT system which was delivered four years late and was way over its original estimate.

The 'Progesa' IT system, to control blood banking activities, came into use in 2003. However, it was originally due to be up-and-running in 1999 at a cost of €4.26m.

An upgrade of the system in May 2004, costing a further €4.9m, was scrapped and management reverted to the old system.

A critical report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) yesterday revealed the amount of money wasted by state bodies in Ireland.

Fine Gael last night called on the Government to grant powers to the C&AG to end the litany of financial disasters and mismanagement in state bodies.

The report looked at the audits of non-commercial State Sponsored Bodies, Health Sector Bodies and Vocational Educational Committees.

In the report, C&AG General John Purcell highlighted the need for effective governance in relation to IT projects and pointed to an inadequate evaluation of the risks involved.

The failure to comply with public financial procedures was also criticised.

He pointed to expenditure by public bodies without the necessary agreement of relevant funding departments and the issuing of grants to public bodies before they were in a position to use the money.

As well as criticism of the IBTS, the findings revealed how employment agency FAS spent €250,000 on an advertising campaign for its Opportunities jobs fair in 2002.

This was at least twice as much as was paid previously, or since, for such work.

The employment agency was also found to have spent €1.7m on a website which had replicated other FAS online services, was €1m over budget and was eventually abandoned.

In addition to this, it spent €100,000 on advertising with a local paper, even though it advertises nationally.

The Abbey Theatre also came in for criticism by the C&AG, who found it had failed to adhere to public procurement rules on the use of capital funding. The theatre had been allocated €881,000 more than it had sought for capital works.

Ineffective

The report said the adoption of an open source desktop strategy in Beaumont Hospital in 2002 proved to be ineffective and out of line with the health service.

The acquisition of a software system in 2006, to allow the development of the hospital's patient administration, ran counter to the Department of Finance policy on the integration of IT systems, it said.

This resulted in ineffective expenditure which could be as high as €311,000.

In a statement, the hospital said all matters raised in the report were identified by management and addressed in a "timely and appropriate" manner.

Fine Gael procurement spokesman Kieran O'Donnell said a early warning system should be in place to allow the C&AG to spot potential problems and insist on corrective action before it's too late.

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