Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Sinn Féin Brian Stanley TD, has today published a report on the Department of Education, which instructs them to do much more to ensure that the taxpayer is protected during the process of urgent procurement contracts.
The report originates from a meeting with the Department of Education in October 2020 following a procurement process on the calculated grades system and the Leaving Certificate. In its report, the Committee recommends that stronger safeguards are put in place to minimise risk and deliver high standards during an accelerated procurement process.
The report also covers Caranua and calls for the Department of Education to work with the survivor organisation to learn lessons for future redress schemes.
Speaking at the publication of the report, the Laois/Offaly TD said:
“It is the job of the Public Accounts Committee to ensure that the taxpayer receives value for money.
“To achieve this objective, we need to ensure that departments engage in high standards of risk management and oversight during a procurement process.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has, of course, presented departments with significant obstacles to planning ahead and it has sprung many new and unexpected demands upon public expenditure.
“However, it is essential that we deal with these urgent matters in a way in the taxpayer is protected and risk is minimised.
“The Committee’s report has recommended that the Department of Education strive for the highest standards of oversight possible with regards to the procurement process and that is liaise with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to ensure that the risk to taxpayers is minimised on each occasion.
“Our report also covers the wind-down of Caranua and the role of the Department. We are still awaiting legislation from the Department which will dissolve the organisation and we want to see a timelime presented to the Committee for that process.
“We also want to ensure that there are on-going supports established for survivors once Caranua is dissolved and that the Department engages with the organisation to learn from its experience to incorporate minimise risk findings into future redress schemes.
“Finally, the Committee has called on the Department of Education to carry out a comprehensive review by the end of this year of temporary accommodation in schools after it spent more than €56million on such facilities in two years. This raises very serious questions around value for money.”