New figures reveal scale of consultancy for Government departments

Consultancy for Government a lucrative business for small number of firms

Firms such as Mazars, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernest and Young appear repeatedly in the figures for Government spending on outside consultants. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Firms such as Mazars, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernest and Young appear repeatedly in the figures for Government spending on outside consultants. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Accountancy firms, public relations companies, management consultants and think tanks are among those who benefited from millions in Government spending on outside consultants last year, according to new figures.

The figures demonstrate the extent to which the business of government is big business for the private sector. Although these figures are incomplete (some departments did not supply any information, others supplied only incomplete figures) they show that providing consultancy and professional services to Government is a lucrative business for a relatively small number of firms.

Firms such as Mazars, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernest and Young appear repeatedly in the figures, compiled by The Irish Times after parliamentary questions by the Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath.

Specialist ICT services

The Department of Justice paid accountants €70,000 Mazars for “specialist ICT services”.

Mazars was also paid €44,000 by the Department of Business for “financial and governance analysis of certain credit co-operatives). Other consultants engaged by the same department were KPMG (€43,000), the ESRI (€51,000), Coyne Research (€34,000). Behaviour and Attitudes (€25,000), Copenhagen Economics (€133,00), the OECD €300,000) and ASM Chartered Accountants, which received €59,000 for five internal audit reports. The department also paid Ove Arup €45,000 for a review of “dangerous substances legislation”.

The Department of Health also paid Mazars under a number of headings – including €73,000 to support GDPR compliance. Q4PR, a public relations and lobbying firm, was paid €35,000 for work on Sláintecare, while Morrow Gilchrist and Associates was paid €71,000 for producing a review of A Vision for Change, the mental health services strategy. Ernst and Young was paid a similar amount for a review of delayed discharges.

The Royal College of Physicians and the Irish College of General Practitioners were paid €230,000 for developing clinical guidelines for abortion.

The Department of Communications, Climate Act and Environment awarded a number of large consultancy contracts. It paid the National Treasury Management Agency more than €150,000 for “financial and commercial advice and assistance”, while the ESRI was paid €75,000 as part of a three-year research programme. US consultants Charles River Associates was paid €300,000 to supply “independent economic analysis” for a judicial review case. KPMG was paid more than €200,000 for a study on extending the gas network, while Arthur Cox solicitors was paid €124,000 for advice on Shell’s sale of its interest in the Corrib gas field.

A number of other consultancy firms were also paid for reports on the Corrib and other petroleum exploration issues.

The Department of Social Protection paid Deloitte €188,000 for a “data strategy project”, while the same company was paid more than €100,000 for “digital organisational change management”. Mazars was paid €92,000 for GDPR work, and a further €41,000 for IT security audits.

The Department of Housing was also a big spender on consultancy. It paid the RPS Group almost €400,000 for work on several projects, while Aecom, Capita Transformation, Ernst and Young, Arthur Cox and the ESRI were all paid six-figure sums.

Strategic advice

The Department of Public Expenditure paid solicitors Byrne Wallace more than €100,000. Project managers Expleo were paid €96,000 for work on the Government’s e-procurement platform, while Global IT and consulting group Gartner were paid €182,000 for IT services and advice. Horizon Energy Group was paid €284,000 for “strategic advice and energy advisory services”, while KPMG was paid €200,000 for IT advice and consultancy. The department paid research consultancy Research Matters €113,000 for “surveys and structured interviews for the Public Pay Commission”. Treacy Consulting was also paid €75,000 for the commission.

The Department of Education paid a number of consultants six-figure sums – Crowleys Accountants (€129,000), Deloitte (€307,000) Duff and Phelps (€267,000), Ernst and Young (€494,000)Fitzpatrick Associates (€174,000) Gartner €211,000) and Indecon (€201,000).

The largest spend in the Department of Foreign Affairs was to consultants Fitzpatrick Associates for “evaluation related services”, while environmental scientist and television presenter Tara Shine was also paid more than €42,000 (with UCC scientist Martin Le Tissier) for work on climate change and on small island developing states.

“The scale and the frequency with which consultancy firms are engaged across all departments easily lends itself to the impression that no real constraints exist in terms of minimising their use,” Mr McGrath said.

“Departments have a clear right to engage expertise when and where there is not sufficient expertise available ‘in-house.’

“However, from the replies I have received it appears that engaging some consultancy firms has become the first choice rather the last resort.”