Press Release: The Valuation Office

Dublin Castle
22 February 2008

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr John Purcell, has today published a report arising from an examination of the Valuation Office.

Background to the Examination

The Valuation Office provides a property valuation service to ratepayers and rating authorities.  It also provides a non-statutory property valuation service to government departments and public bodies.  Local authorities raise rates on the basis of property valuations carried out by the Valuation Office and consequently are highly dependent on these services.  Legislation enacted in 2001 provided for the revaluation of all commercial and industrial property in the State.  This was designed to bring rateable property valuations into line with current rental values.  The Valuation Office began a programme of revaluation in 2005. 

The examination reviewed the arrangements the Valuation Office has in place for the provision of valuation services to rating authorities and public bodies, the progress made in implementation of the revaluation programme and how overall performance is managed.

Main Findings

Valuation Services

Restructuring following the enactment of the Valuation Act, 2001 had a positive impact on the valuation revision process.  The Valuation Office has had considerable success in addressing an appeal culture that previously existed.  An increased focus on the quality of valuation work has led to a reduction of more than half on resources that were previously used to process appeals.  Overall, productivity in the provision of valuation services has improved by around 35% over the period 2001 ? 2006.

The examination found that there was a substantial backlog in the case of non-statutory market valuation work.  Cases not processed at the end of 2006 represented approximately 18 months work.  An improved method of delivering this output needs to be implemented.

Cases for valuation should only be submitted where there has been a material change of circumstances and that the property is capable of beneficial occupation.  The examination found that 9% of cases referred for valuation were rejected in 2006 for not meeting this criterion.

From the viewpoint of performance management, the Office still has some work to do before it will have a target setting and measurement system that tracks its output in a fair and consistent manner.

Revaluation of Property

No national revaluation of property has taken place since the original Griffith Valuation of 1852 ? 1865 with the result that there are acknowledged anomalies and inequities in the system.  The current revaluation process has been activated in two rating authorities ? South Dublin County Council and Fingal County Council.  About 84% of the targeted revaluations in the South Dublin County Council area were completed in 2006.  The examination found that the original ministerial expectation that the first countrywide revaluation would be completed within five years of commencement will not be realised.  Output per valuer is around 25% of the levels envisaged by consultants who assisted the Valuation Office in framing the revaluation programme.  Due to the extended timeframe now envisaged and based on current productivity levels, the budget for the project could be up to five times that projected by the consultants, before taking account of inflation. 

Performance Management

Overall, the examination found that the Valuation Office has set out its strategy and has business management, corporate governance and risk management systems.  However, it needs to identify and align specific initiatives with its objectives.

The examination found that the Office is not deriving full benefit from its investment in financial information systems.  Only a small proportion of its overall expenditure is allocated to designated cost centres.  85% of 2006 expenditure was coded to the Office?s general cost centre.  This militates against accurate costing of the Office?s activities. 

There was an increase in customer ratings of satisfaction with the services provided by the Office in the years up to 2005.  However, this was followed by a small drop in 2006. Four rating authorities interviewed as part of the examination process were generally satisfied with the service.  However, the County and City Managers? Association has said that authorities have concerns about perceived staffing reductions, a decrease in targets and the effectiveness of communication.  They also see a need for some flexibility in regard to the strict deadlines imposed by the Office for the submission of property listings for valuation.

Finally, while discussions are taking place with some rating authorities the examination found that only a small number of authorities are currently engaged in the electronic exchange of information with the Valuation Office.

Recommendations

The report sets out a number of recommendations to enhance the delivery of a quality and efficient valuation service and to advance the revaluation process.

 

Notes for Editors

The Comptroller and Auditor General is an independent constitutional officer with responsibility for the audit of public funds.  He reports to Dáil ?reann. 

The full text of the report is available on the website of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (go to www.audgen.gov.ie).

For further information about the report, please contact John Buckley at (01) 6031025 or at john_buckley@audgen.irlgov.ie