Private storage of government files cost €9m in past three years

TD calls for review of fragmented system to create more effective model

Government departments and a number of State agencies have spent almost €9 million in the past three years on the rental of storage space for documents and files.

Details released to Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy show the State spent €8,805,163 – an average of almost €3 million in each of the last three years – on storage, archiving and retrieval of documents.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility and pays for storage for various government departments, and Minister of State Seán Canney said the OPW spent €4,334,122 at serviced storage facilities for the three years.

This included storage for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (€642.675), the Attorney General’s office (€151,563), the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (€309,664), the Oireachtas (€117,310), the Property Registration Authority (€106,094), Public Appointments Service (€46,456), the Revenue Commissioners (€21,755) and the National Gallery (€28,438).


Ms Murphy said there were real costs associated with the retrieval of documents, separately from storage. “The National Library, which is not even in these questions, has storage in three different places, and there is a fellow permanently employed going around in a van retrieving documents from these sites.”

The Kildare North TD said storage was very fragmented and by its nature would be fragmented, but the State could be paying less if there was a more uniform system in place. “They may well be getting exceptionally good value for their storage,” she said, but the State should review the costs across the board to see where savings could be made and in that assessment “they might do things differently”.

New contract

The OPW costs for storing Department of Health files totalled just under €180,000 over the past three years. Minister for Health

Simon Harris

said the contract was due for renewal, and a process was under way in consultation with the Office of Government Procurement. He declined to give the retrieval costs until the new contract was in place.

OPW costs for the Department of Social Protection storage and additional document handling and retrieval totalled €1.675 million.

OPW costs for agriculture over the three year period totalled €362,233, but an additional €1.357 million was spent by the Department of Agriculture for extra storage when a number of offices closed following a reorganisation programme.

Costs for the Department of Foreign Affairs were €1.534 million, which included €54,900 for files and records stored at private facilities for the passport service in Dublin and Cork.

The Department of the Taoiseach spent €17,327 on off-site storage in the past three years. The Department of Justice spent €236,857, including costs for search and retrieval.

New crates

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said his department spent €208,452 in the past three year on transferring and archiving files, on their retrieval and return, and on the purchase of new crates.

File storage and retrieval for the Department of Housing and Planning totalled €484,490, including €21,630 for document retrieval.

Total costs for storage and file retrieval and return at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs was €127,239.

File storage and retrieval at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment cost €146,169.

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport costs totalled €133,401, while the Department of Jobs spent €426,149

No costs were listed for the Department of Finance. The Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said her department had not incurred any expenditure for the past three years in relation to off-site storage.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times