Over €24m was spent on 621 external consultancy reports by the Government from March 2011 up to December 2015, with an average cost of just under €40,000 per report. One report alone cost the state over €2.7m.

The figures were revealed through Parliamentary Questions tabled by Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy TD.

Commenting on the figures Deputy Troy stated, “€24m is a massive amount of money to be spending on consultants when we already have a highly skilled civil service who know their department areas inside out.

“These figures expose the reliance that the Government has on expensive external reports and underlines the need to ensure the tax payer gets value for money from these consultants. Some of the reports are a serious waste of resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

“For example the Department of the Environment commissioned a report on its internal review of planning irregularities which was subsequently quashed by the High Court. This forced the Government into an embarrassing u-turn and resulted in the establishment of an independent inquiry of the authorities involved, which seriously calls into question the judgement of those sitting around the cabinet table.

“Other reports also raise serious questions as to the value for money being achieved by the Government. For example there was an external survey established to determine the weather forecast consumption by Irish people and a confidential ERSI budget report for the Department of Transport which should have been carried out within the Department itself. EY also billed the state €40,000 for a report it carried out on the Aran Islands air link which was subsequently abandoned by the Government.

“Fianna Fáil’s position on this this is very clear. The committee system should be given greater powers to review the use of external consultancy reports to ensure they provide value for money. External reports must not be used to duplicate the efforts that can be undertaken by the Civil Service.

“We can create a more open system by empowering committees to protect tax payers from being ripped off and focus reports towards examining real problems that need proper outside advice,” concluded Deputy Troy.