Data recently obtained by Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Public Expenditure, Barry Cowen TD reveals that the Government has spent over €42 million on external consultancy reports since March 2011. The average cost per report was €40,000 while one report alone cost in the region of €2.7 million.

Deputy Cowen commented, “This is a massive amount of money to have been forked out on consultants when we already have a highly skilled civil service who know the inner workings of their respective Departments inside out.

“Spending roughly €40,000 per report when we should be drawing on internal expertise and upskilling the permanent staff raises serious questions regarding value for money.

“Not only do these figures expose the Government’s over reliance on expensive external reports, they also underline the need to ensure that the tax payer is getting value for money from these consultants.

“I believe that a number of the reports are a serious waste of resources that could be better spent elsewhere,” he added.

“For example, the report produced on the Department of Housing’s internal review of planning irregularities which was quashed by the High Court. This forced the Government into an embarrassing U-Turn on establishing an independent inquiry in the authorities involved. We are still awaiting the final outcome of that long running saga.

“Some Departments are massively relying on external consultants. In fact, the Department of Education has commissioned over 140 reports since March 2011.

”Fianna Fáil has consistently raised this matter and has outlined what precisely needs to be done to better utilise existing resources. The committee system should be given greater powers to review the use of external consultancy reports to guarantee that they provide value for money, do not duplicate efforts that can be undertaken by the civil service and offer worthwhile insights into pressing problems.

“We also need to focus on upskilling civil service staff to limit the need for expensive external expertise. This will create a more open system, protect tax payers from being ripped off and focus reports towards real problems that need some outside advice” concluded Deputy Cowen.