Deloitte's services cost almost €60m

So over half of the money for the PPARS system was spent on Deloitte consultants. And what have we got to show for it? Either the civil servants are incompetent or Deloitte were taking the proverbial.

The Irish Times understands that Deloitte received €40 million in consultancy fees over recent years for the PPARs payroll and staff records system and a separate €18.12 million for work on the FISP financial information system project.

The board of the HSE, as expected, decided yesterday to put on hold plans to expand the PPARs systems beyond the four locations where it is in use.

Government 'not to blame' over €150m pay system

Mary Harney has come out and said that the present government is not to blame. Huh? Is ist just me or has the current government not been in power since 1997? Noted Harney:

“The real problem is the fact that in the health service, we have a jumble of incoherence as far as work practices are concerned, we’ve thousands of pay variations, thousands of rosters, many different grade structures and individual working arrangements,” she said.

“We had 11 different health boards: if there was any argument for getting rid of them, and many opposed their abolition, it is that this kind of chaos wouldn’t have happened.”

What a ridiculous load of shite. And going by the state of the PPARS website (one of the most backward and ugly websites I have seen in years), it seems that nobody knows what they are doing.

HSE to suspend roll-out of €150m computer system

Is this just plain incompetence or is there something more sinister involved?

The Irish Times understands that the system will have cost €150 million by the end of this year, and more than €230 million if fully implemented.

Despite this, less than one third of the people within the health system, or 37,000 people, are covered by it at present.

After he took up office in August, Prof Drumm ordered an internal review following internal complaints and reports about the system, which failed to identify a mistake where one staff member was paid €1 million in error. The mistake came to light when the staff member reported the overpayment to superiors.

Last July, when news of the overpayment emerged, the HSE blamed it on “human error”. It said PPARS was “working well and will be extended to all staff “.

In July Ta¡naiste Mary Harney said she had asked for a report from senior staff at her department on the project.

“If we have got it wrong we must put our hands up,” she said. According to her spokesman, Ms Harney has yet to receive that report.

Last night Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who is expected to raise the controversy in the Dail later today, described PPARs as “a farce that will make the money wasted on e-voting seem like small change”.

“A project initially costed six years ago at €8 million is now heading towards a completion cost of a quarter of a billion euro because of chronic planning, management and oversight. We get to see why under this Government health budgets are increased while front-line services still suffer.”

Two Laws

Every once in a while a case/report appears in the media that crystalises how things are done in the Banana Republic of Ireland. Last Saturday’s Irish Times reported on the case of a Land Registry official who is facing charges of corruptly accepting cheques. The Department of Justice issued the following statement.

“A number of irregularities came to light in the Land Registry during 2003 in relation to the processing and payment of fees for certain services.”The gardaa­ were duly notified and they undertook an investigation into the matter. The matter is now before the courts. No further comment can be made at this stage as it is subjudice.”

In today’s Irish Times we read

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheal Martin has directed that information amassed in an inquiry into three companies linked to the Ansbacher affair be passed from his department to a number of other public bodies.

The ordinary official is in court on corruption charges two years after his alleged crime but according to the Irish Times report involving the Ansbacher scandal

the findings of the investigations into Hamilton Ross, Guinness & Mahon Ireland and College Trustees remain secret, some seven years after they were initiated

(Just allow me to repeat that – remain secret some seven years after they were initiated)
The case of the ordinary official in the Land Registry office is a good example of how real democracies deal with alleged corruption – Investigation: charges: trial: appropriate punishment. (All carried out efficiently and applied to the rich and powerful as well as to ordinary citizens)
This system results in respect for justice, respect for law and order, a sense of equality in society, and international respect for our democracy.

The Ansbacher criminality primarily involves rich and powerful citizens. None of those involved will face criminal charges, none will see the inside of a jail. Deals will be done, arrangements will be made, secrecy will be maintained.
This system results in cynicism, loss of respect for law and order, loss of respect for democracy, international contempt and the deserved title – Banana Republic of Ireland.

Minister defends OPW over spending accusations

Yet more juicy stuff from the Public Accounts Committee.

The report says that over €19 million has been spent acquiring accommodation for asylum seekers which was never used. It also says it is likely that a considerable amount of this investment will be lost when the properties were sold.

The report also says that the cost of renovating a property for the Probation and Welfare Service ran to 10 times the original estimate of €150,000.

It also criticises a lease arrangement, originally entered into by Cork County Council , for the provision of temporary premises for Cork courthouse.

The report also reveals that the provision of overtime cover for prison officers on sick leave cost €8.6 million in 2002.

The Irish Times report continues:

The vice-chairman of the committee, John McGuinness (FF), said there had been a number of “ridiculous decisions” taken by the OPW in relation to property projects. He said that he hoped that the same would not happen in the roll-out of the Government’s decentralisation programme.

Mr McGuinness said he believed that if the OPW was a private company that it would be closed down as it could not go on with such losses. He said if Mr Parlon did not believe there were problems he should “take his head out of the sand”.

However, Sean Ardagh (FF)said that he would not accept that there was incompetence within the OPW.

Mr Parlon told The Irish Times yesterday the committee’s report was dated and unfair to the OPW.

He said the OPW had been involved in the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers in 120 locations around the country and the committee had highlighted five centres which were held up due to local legal challenges.

Mr Parlon said the OPW had generated €100 million last year from sales of State property. He said that if OPW was a private company he would be in line for a bonus payment. Mr Parlon described Mr McGuinness as “an opposition spokesman within the Government”. He said that Mr McGuinness was a constant critic and that he did not know what axe he had to grind.

Taxpayer facing 'some loss' over OPW deals – Parlon

I guess that would depend how you define ‘some’.

In Cork alone the renovation of the courthouse on Washington Street went over budget by €23 million. Yes over budget by €23 million. So one has to ask, was it a bad estimate in the first place or were the cost overruns the fault of the contracted builder? Indeed is there any comeback at all? Do the OPW just carry on as before or are the people responsible held accountable?

Parlon’s thoughts are:

Responding to criticism about Cork courthouse, Mr Parlon said “If the PAC or anyone else thinks that job could have been done for €3.8 million they have to be absolutely joking.”

He said the project had been estimated at €3.8 million a number of years ago but because it had dragged on the cost had risen to €26 million. “We will be much more careful about initial estimates for jobs in the future.”

Mr Parlon added that although he was looking forward to reading the report and taking its recommendations on board, he was annoyed “certain bits are being picked out for attention”

Money quote:

He was responding to criticisms contained in a report to be published today by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this afternoon which says more than €19 million has been wasted and €23 million overspent at OPW.

The report says the OPW spent €19 million on five properties to house asylum seekers that were never used…