22 September 2008

How the State wastes our Money

Brian Lenihan, our new Minister for Finance, is busy with looking for extra money anywhere inside the large State apparatus, in order to plug the gaps that incompetence, imprudence and sloppy management have created under his predecessor, the current Taoiseach.

And he is certainly reading the just published annual report of the State's Comptroller & Auditor General (someone very important, of whose existence hardly anyone knows). It might give him some extra grey hair or headaches to learn how much of taxpayers' money was - in 2007 alone - wasted by the Irish government and her many departments and agencies.

John Buckley, the Comptroller & Auditor General, strongly criticised HSE managers for failing to act promptly to address a budget overrun of € 245 million. In his annual report for 2007 he also criticises them for "assuming they would be 'bailed out' with extra funding".

He describes elements of the health service as "fragmented, disjointed and difficult for patients to access".
By November 2006, the HSE knew that its 2007 allocation for existing services would be around € 341 million short. But senior management did not implement a break-even plan to secure savings until July 2007, in the end securing savings of only € 96 million.

Previous practice on budget overruns had led to the expectation by certain managers that they would be 'bailed out' with extra funding. "This 'wait and see' culture must be discouraged," says Mr. Buckley.

Taxpayers will also be fascinated to learn that the Revenue Commissioners made an undisclosed voluntary settlement of almost € 1.7 million with the Inspector of Taxes. The Comptroller & Auditor General says the payment related to unpaid benefit-in-kind tax for the Revenue's own staff. (One wonders how competent they are with other people's money if they cannot even run their own office properly...)

The report also says that 200 new Garda cars - costing € 3.8 million - lay idle for 14 months after they were purchased, because the Garda garage could not cope with fitting out such a large number of vehicles with their existing facilities and manpower.

Free election literature for Oireachtas members cost the state up to an extra € 3.3 million because, for legal reasons, the State did not qualify for a bulk discount available to other An Post clients.

Mr. Buckley criticises the continuing payment of special border duty allowances to members of the Defence Forces, long after the original reason for them disappeared.
He also highlights a savings scheme that cost € 1 million a year to administer, despite generating less than € 4.5 million annually.
And over € 9 million was advanced to local bodies for flood relief, despite the fact that it will not be utilised until 2009.

The Comptroller & Auditor General raises also concerns about the lack of competitive processes in the procurement of goods and services in the prison service.

If you are interested in more details, the full report is available under this link:

It makes some very interesting reading.

The Emerald Islander


Grandad said...

That makes for very sick and sorry reading. Why do I get the impression it's only the tip of the iceberg?


Yes, it does make one very sad to realise that one's country is ruled by a bunch of imbeciles with the political competence of 7-year-olds.

And it is indeed only the tip of an ever growing iceberg, as you spotted correctly. John Buckley's full report for 2007 has more than 100 pages.
And shortly after you posted your comment, it was further confirmed by the revelations about FAS.

What a banana republic we have...!

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