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Call to axe quango as it splashes €500k on work survey in jobless crisis

A call has been made for the abolition of a state "quango" that has spent more than half a million euro on a workplace survey as the jobs crisis deepens.

The National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP) spent just over €522,000 on its national workplace survey for 2009 -- more than three times the cost of a similar study in 2003.

And in six years, the centre, which An Bord Snip recommended be shut down, spent nearly €8m of taxpayers' money.

The NCPP released the figures following a Freedom of Information request by the Herald.

Fine Gael's Brian Hayes TD said the body should be wound down and the money being spent on it was a "disgrace", given rising unemployment.

The NCPP was established by Government in 2001 "to promote and facilitate partnership-led change and innovation" in Ireland's workplaces.

In 2007, it was placed on a statutory footing as part of the National Economic & Social Development Office (NESDO). NESDO's other constituent bodies are the National Economic & Social Council (NESC) and the National Economic & Social Forum (NESF).

According to the centre, its current focus is on promoting "workplace innovation" as a key response to the economic downturn. Its survey for 2009 aimed "to assess employers and employees' attitudes, experiences and expectations of change and innovation in their workplaces".

Of the money spent on this survey,€320,647 was paid to independent market research company Amarach Research, with €191,286 going to the ESRI and another €10,916 on the procurement process. The 2003 survey, carried out at the height of the boom, cost €155,646.

Sop

The centre's budget rose to a height of €1.67m in 2007. It was reduced to €1.18m in 2008 and €458,500 last year after the Department of Finance directed that it share administration and support services with NESDO.

"This thing was established as a sop to the unions at the time," Deputy Hayes said. "There are three or four separate bodies who deal with partnership. It seems to me it is entirely surplus to requirements given what is happening now in terms of partnership. An Bord Snip Nua identified 70 to 90 separate organisations that could be wound down for the purposes of saving money and this is clearly one of them.We need a cull of quangos whose benefit is questionable. Every euro we have should be earmarked for frontline services.

"The idea that the taxpayer is footing the bill for a group that is cosseted away issuing reports that no-one reads is a disgrace as far as I'm concerned. I think it's a waste of taxpayers' money. There has to be a question mark over the viability of this agency

"We have a situation in this country where we have effectively turned away 20,000 applicants for PLC courses because there is no money."

aphelan@herald.ie


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