Sinn Féin TD and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Brian Stanley has today published the ‘Comptroller and Auditor General Bill 2021’.
The Bill would empower the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to chase all public money spent, even where state funding comprises less than 50% of the organisation’s revenue. This would include organisations such as the FAI, Pieta House and section 38/39 organisations in the health sector.
Speaking this morning, the Laois/Offaly TD said:
“It is very important that the State’s public auditor (C&AG) and the PAC is empowered to chase taxpayers’ money wherever it is spent.
“Unfortunately, under the existing legislation, this is not always possible due to a restriction on auditing private organisations where state funding constitutes less than 50% of their total gross receipts for the year.
“This restriction imposed by existing legislation make no sense and only serves to undermine public confidence in much needed services.
“In recent years, there has been a significant expansion of Government funding to non-government agencies, especially in section 38 and 39 health and education service providers. Where €4 billion is spent per annum.
“While the vast majority of organisations have not been the subject of questionable behaviour and are very good at spending taxpayers’ money, our position is that if the Government is going to continue to outsource programmes and money to the private sector, then they need to be held fully accountable.
“The Bill won’t confer an obligation on the C&AG to audit all of the accounts, rather it allows his or her office to establish, where necessary, that the money was spent for the appropriate purposes.
“In the spirit of accountability and transparency and at a time when public money is scarce, this would be a useful tool and power for the C&AG and the PAC.
“It is based on the principle that all public money is to be subject to the same scrutiny regardless of the organisations size or level of funding.
“This is how we, as elected representatives, protect the public purse and deliver first-class public services to the highest standards of delivery, accountability and oversight.”