External reports cost departments almost €3m
Seven Government departments have spent almost €3 million in fees to outside consultants since the Coalition came into power in March 2011.
Replies to parliamentary questions show the Department of Health has been the biggest spender when commissioning reports from companies, with expenditure approaching €1 million in the last 18 months.
The biggest single fee was €300,000 charged by Goodbody Stockbrokers and Matthew Ormsby Prentice solicitors. They had jointly reviewed the health insurance market. The two firms are conducting further analysis on this topic for additional fees which have not yet been disclosed.
Seven of the 15 Government departments supplied details of external consultants retained by them on foot of a parliamentary question tabled by FF TD Barry Cowen. The other eight departments said they were not in a position to respond but would forward him information when it was compiled.
Fine Gael and Labour had sharply criticised the previous government for what they claimed was its tendency to “hide behind” the work of external consultants.
The seven departments have commissioned 106 reports costing €2,924,237. That does not include all spending by the departments as some were not in a position to say how much ongoing consultancy work would cost.
If the remaining departments have been spending equivalent amounts on outside expertise, overall expenditure on consultancy would have exceeded €6 million since the Coalition took office.
The Department of Health’s spend of €807,000 on 32 reports is the largest. They have ranged from translation services costing less than €1,000 to a few reports costing six-figure sums.
A report on drug use in prisons cost €115,000 while a all-Ireland traveller health study cost €139,000.
The next biggest spender is the Department was Communication and Energy at €595,057 on 13 reports. The department spent almost €200,000 on the strategic case for oil refinement requirements. It also paid consultants Indecon more than €50,000 for a study to establish the value of the exploration and mining to the economy.
Among the other departments some 10 surveys were commissioned by the Department of Finance costing €487,000. The most expensive was €100,000 paid to ARAM International Partners for a report on mortgage arrears. It also paid Deloitte and Touche €61,000 for its review of the error which led to a double count, and a €3.6 billion overestimation, of the general Government deficit.
The Department of Jobs and Enterprise spent €319,000 for 14 reports. The most expensive was one produced by Deloitte and Touche for €72,000.
The Department of Education paid €319,000 having commissioned 12 outside consultants. The Department of Foreign Affairs spent €272,000.