Government spent over €30 million on external legal, HR specialists, accountancy, and consultancy services

Government departments have spent over €30m hiring external legal teams, HR specialists, accountancy firms, and consultants in the past year.

The most sizeable portion of this was spent by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, which racked up a €14.3m bill, including over  €10m of external legal and consultancy advice on the National Broadband Plan (NDP).

Well-known consultant and advisory companies Mazars, Ernst & Young, and KPMG feature regularly on the list of outsourced work as well as third-level institutions.

Although the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO) provides litigation, advisory, and conveyancing services to Government departments, over €1.49m was spent hiring some of the country’s top legal firms including William Fry, Matheson, and Arthur Cox.

The figures, which reveal the extent to which Government departments rely on private consultants, do not include the Departments of Education and Higher Education as spending for 2021 is still being calculated.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has only has published details of expenditure up to the end of September.

Labour TD Seán Sherlock questioned what he called the increasing level of dependency Departments now have on private firms and called on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to investigate the spending.

“It’s important that all monies spent by government departments are published and that transparency exists,” said Mr. Sherlock, who received details of the spending through a series of parliamentary questions.

“In latter years we’re witnessing an increased dependency on outside expertise.

Some matters will need external assistance, but the pandemic has highlighted how much money the big consulting houses have made and that does warrant closer scrutiny through the PAC.

“Such a large spend on legal fees needs to be examined also.”

The Department of Agriculture forked out over €4.4m on external consultants, the Department of Children spent €5.3m on private firms, while the outside consulting provided to the Department of Housing came to €1.8m.

The Department of the Taoiseach and the Department Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media said there had been no spending from the administrative budget on external consultancy.

Eamon Ryan’s department paid out over €10m to private consultants who provided advice on the NDP in the last year alone.

In total, the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications spent over €14m recruiting outside legal, accounting, communications, and advisory firms in 2021.

source: Irish Examiner

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