Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
148. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount spent on external consultants by his Department in 2019; the average hourly rate; if caps or limits on such spending are in place; the way in which conflicts of interest are managed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6977/20]
I wish to advise the Deputy that details of the consultancy spend by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is regularly updated and published on gov.ie. In this context, details of this spend since the Department’s establishment in 2011 up to the end of April 2020 can be found at the following link:
It is not possible to provide an average hourly rate, as some of the consultancy involves a fixed price for a project. Where the consultancy is based on an hourly rate, this varies considerably according to the type of consultancy procured and other factors.
While no specific expenditure caps are in place in respect of consultancy expenditure, my Department only uses consultancy services when the work in question cannot be done in-house. In addition, the Department's internal procurement policy provides that a procurement process for services over €5,000 may not be commenced without establishing a clear business need, obtaining a realistic estimate of the value of all phases of the service to be procured and confirming that the required budget has been approved and is in place. In this latter context, as part of the Department’s annual estimates process, business units within the Department are allocated an agreed budget within which they must deliver their public goods.
My Department has robust internal procedures to manage conflicts of interest in respect of procurement, including the procurement of consultancy services. Individual staff involved in procurement, among other things, must adhere to the Office of Government Procurement’s advice set out in its guidance note on Ethics in Public Procurement in relation to probity, transparency and accountability, the disclosure of conflicts of interest, and the acceptance of gifts of hospitality. Members of any Tender Evaluation Team set up in respect of a procurement are required to evaluate all tenders in a fair and unbiased fashion and in strict compliance with the evaluation methodology and the qualification and award criteria set out in the relevant tender documents and must sign the Department’s Declaration Regarding Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Undertaking before tender evaluation commences. In relation to the ongoing management of consultancy contracts, the obligations to disclose interests and the prohibitions on performing official functions imposed under the Ethics in Public Office Acts apply to all staff within the Department at Administrative Officer / Higher Executive Officer level and above.
I understand that the position in respect of other Departments will be provided by the relevant Ministers in separate replies.