Monday 18 December 2017

Staggering sums spent on reports commissioned by the State


The State has spent a staggering amount of money on specially commissioned reports -- including €30,000 for one on how to control bracken on the Army's firing range at the Glen of Immal in Co Wicklow.

Included in the spending is over €40m by the Department of Finance on fees and advice since 2008.

Reports commissioned include everything from using the National Pension Reserve Fund to numerous reports on fluoridation, including €31,058 spent on "Response to Professor Connett's '50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoride'".

Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh, who unearthed the forest of reports commissioned by government departments, said: "I have written to the Taoiseach, suggesting that government departments should cut back on external consultancy and instead engage unemployed graduates and permanent civil servants in research projects."

However, only three departments -- Finance, Health and Children and Defence -- provided a comprehensive reply to Mr McHugh's queries for a list of reports commissioned and how much they had cost.

Through a series of parliamentary questions, Mr McHugh has unearthed a cross-section of reports commissioned by the Government.

These include:

• €29m on the 'National Longitudinal Study of Children 2006-2012'.

• €3.1m on nine reports into the Government taking a share in AIB and Bank of Ireland.

• €2.9m on Lourdes Hospital inquiry.

• €2.02m on 'Inquiry into Handling of Allegations of Sexual Abuse in Diocese of Ferns'.

• €1.7m 'All Ireland Traveller Health Study'.

• €1.6m on 'Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition in Ireland'.

• €1.4m to Arthur Cox solicitors on AIB due diligence report and €1.3m to PwC on due diligence report on Bank of Ireland.

• €455,257 on 'Teenagers' Views on Solutions to Alcohol Misuse'.

• €212,454 on inquiry into death of Dunne family in Monageer.

• €397,540 for an assessment of how a 35-hour week can be achieved for nurses.

• €134,196 for independent review into activities of Mr Michael Shine.

• €52,591 for 'The Child's Right to be heard in the Health Setting'.

• €35,000 on an ethics committee and ethics approval for children's research.

• €31,129 on a report for the control of bracken in the Glen of Imaal.

Mr McHugh said that while current Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin was Minister for Health between 2000 and 2004, he spent €14.7m commissioning reports into the health service.

"These figures point to a faceless governmental culture developed in the Celtic Tiger era whereby difficult decisions were kicked to touch via the commissioning of very expensive and often meaningless reports at the taxpayer's expense," said Mr McHugh, who is a Fine Gael TD for Donegal.

He was also told that the Department of Foreign Affairs had spent €301,889 with Trinity College on a paper entitled 'Policy Coherence Between Government Departments on Overseas Development'.

"Was all that expense necessary," asked Mr McHugh, adding: "Could any of that project have been conducted internally by permanent civil servants?"

Sunday Independent

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