Garda Commissioner to report to government on €26.5 million IT contract

TD highlights concerns An Garda paid consultancy firm Accenture before work done

Mick Wallace asked in the Dáil “does pre-paying a multinational company millions of euro on a contract nine years out of date with staff who do not even clock in properly sound like value for money”.

Mick Wallace asked in the Dáil “does pre-paying a multinational company millions of euro on a contract nine years out of date with staff who do not even clock in properly sound like value for money”.

 

The Government has sought a report from the Garda Commissioner on an ICT contractual arrangement the force had with consultancy firm Accenture, for which it paid €26.5 million in 2016.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace that it was unacceptable for a public body not to follow proper public procurement procedures.

“Public bodies should always follow public procurement rules, full stop,” he said.

Mr Wallace had highlighted a Garda internal audit on the project for which Accenture was paid the €26.5 million in 2016, even though the 2009 contract was not renewed. None of the arrangements with Accenture after 2009 went out to tender.

The audit found that gardaí “had been paying Accenture in advance before the work was done”. It also emerged that “Accenture staff are the only external IT contractors who do not record their attendance and hours on an electronic clocking system”.

The Wexford TD said that “Accenture is the very same firm which developed the now infamous Pulse system which the head of the Garda Inspectorate Robert Olsen said was not fit for purpose, was 1990s technology and was time to be retired. That was more than two years ago.”

He asked “who has benefitted and who was pulling the strings”.

Mr Wallace asked “does pre-paying a multinational company millions of euro on a contract nine years out of date with staff who do not even clock in properly sound like value for money”.

Getting worse

He also claimed the public procurement situation in An Garda was getting worse.

Mr Wallace pointed out that the 2015 Garda accounts showed 73 contracts breached public procurement guidelines.

He said that when the Garda director of finance Michael Culhane appeared before the Public Accounts Committee in July last year he said the force was actively addressing all of those issues and working with the Office of Procurement.

But Mr Wallace said that the 2016 accounts, showed that 94 Garda contracts breached public procurement guidelines. “Things had got worse, not better.”

He asked what the Office of Government Procurement was doing when the Garda director of finance said the force was working with that office.

The Wexford TD also hit out at the delay in answering parliamentary questions. He said he put in a parliamentary question about Garda contracts with Accenture in June 2017 but did not get a reply until December 19th, more than six months later. “Is the Department (of Justice) in the dark about what is going on?”

The audit showed that controls over payments were generally effective “but not in the case of Accenture”.

Mr Varadkar said he was familiar with Accenture which he believed to be “a very good firm” with a lot of Government contracts.

He said that public bodies should always follow public procurement rules “full stop”.

The Taoiseach had discussed the issue with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and they had sought a report from the Garda Commissioner.

Mr Varadkar acknowledged there had been “irregularities in Garda finances” - in the financial affairs of the Garda training college at Templemore, and in the non-collection of fees and fines. “We see it in irregularities in how contracts are tendered for and awarded.”

But he said they were in the process of implementing a significant programme of Garda reform, including the establishment of the Policing Authority; greater civilianisation of the force by bringing in experts in human resources, finance and all corporate governance functions; and the work of the Commission on the Future of Policing.