Thursday 17 January 2019

Gardaí have 'significantly less IT resources than bodies like Revenue' - committee hears

Dónall Ó Cualáin, the Acting Garda Commissioner
Dónall Ó Cualáin, the Acting Garda Commissioner
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

GARDAÍ have significantly less IT resources than bodies of similar size like Revenue, the force’s hierarchy have claimed.

In a statement Acting Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin told an Oireachtas committee that it is "vital" to recruit external experts to help maintain "critical policing and national security ICT systems on a 24/7 365 basis".

Responding to previous criticism of a contract between An Garda Síochána and IT Accenture, Mr Ó Cualáin said the force works with a number of companies.

"By their nature, given the range of ICT services to be provided and supported, any such contract with a supplier can be complex."

Mr Ó Cualáin did not appear in Leinster House today as scheduled but his statement to the Oireachtas Justice Committee was delivered by the force’s Chief Administrative Officer Joseph Nugent. 

It stated: "When talking about ICT investment in An Garda Síochána, it is important to put this in context.

"Due to the economic downturn and the subsequent decision of successive governments to reduce funding to the Garda organisation and put in place an embargo on civilian recruitment, the ICT budget was reduced significantly – capital expenditure reduced by 50pc and operational expenditure by 43pc.

"In addition, the number of people employed in ICT is significantly lower than those of similarly sized public sector organisations such as the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Agriculture and Department of Social Protection."

Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace has previously told the Dáil that Accenture were award a valuable contract with proper public procurement.

Mr Ó Cualáin report said a skilled resource contract was agreed with Accenture in 2009 and initially ran for two years before being by a further two years.

"The contract was further extended since 2013 in order to ensure the continued operation of ICT services and because the complex nature of the contract meant retendering was difficult due to the lack of a permanent resource to design and run a procurement competition," it said.

The acting commissioner noted that there is still no date for when a review of homicide statistics will be completed.

He confirmed that 41 cases are subject to "a stringent and robust thematic review" looking at a range of issues including initial response, post mortem, main lines of enquiry, exhibits, charge process and family liaison.

To date, 12 of the 41 cases have been reviewed.

"Certain commonalities have been identified in the cases reviewed such as the revisiting and upgrading of investigative actions and crime classification on PULSE, which had been overlooked," the statement said.

The review team has made a number of recommendations for changes to PULSE but "due to the volume of work" it will not be possible to have the review completed by the end of this month as previously promised.

"The Review Team is committed to completing its work as quickly as possible while very conscious of the need for each individual incident to be thoroughly and comprehensively reviewed."

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