Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 2 June 2022
Public Accounts Committee
2020 Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 40 - Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Mr. Kevin McCarthy:
I thank the Deputy. His opening comments are appreciated. On the non-compliant expenditure identified in the 2020 accounts, it is important to acknowledge the context whereby, in providing accommodation for international protection seekers, the Department meets an unpredictable level or scale of demand. It is demand-led and a real-time response is required. The system tends to come under continual pressure and in 2020 there was a context involving Covid and the requirements of public health compliance which involved having to thin out the accommodation numbers in any congregated setting. That put pressure on the emergency response at that time.
The previous Department, in seeking to provide for international protection accommodation, ran a number of regional tendering competitions between 2018 and 2021.
At a point in time, it became clear that that was not going to meet the requirements of the demand that was presenting and expressions of interest were sought through national and local newspapers to try to bring additional accommodation on stream as it was required. There was a competitive element to that but, when the functions transferred in, the view was taken by our own procurement team that while much of the accommodation was procured competitively, it was not compliant with the regulations and, therefore, should have been noted in the circular 40/02 return.