Report on the Accounts of the Public Services 2009

Press Release  15 September 2010

 

The Comptroller and Auditor General has today issued his Report on the Public Services for the year ended 31 December 2009.

The report deals with four main types of matter

?          Central government outturns ? these chapters are designed, in the absence of a whole of government account, to give a general overview of the State budget outturn for 2009 and the main liabilities and assets of the State

>?         The results of reviews of Revenue systems and procedures

>?         The outcome of national debt management activities

>?         The findings of a set of audit projects, selected on the basis of the materiality of the programmes and/or the risk to public funds.

Each individual chapter sets out the focus of the audit and its overall conclusion.   The report is set out in two volumes with 45 chapters.

  • Volume 1 deals with matters arising out of the audit of Central Government, Revenue and the National Debt.
  • Volume 2 outlines some matters that arose out of the audit of funds charged to particular Appropriation Accounts.

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Audited Accounts of Government Departments and Offices

At the same time as presenting his report, the Comptroller and Auditor General presents the Appropriation Accounts together with his certificates to Dáil ?reann. The certificates give his opinion on whether the accounts properly present the transactions of the year.  In the case of one Appropriation Account, he has referred to an instance where the account contains a material level of expenditure in excess of entitlement ? the Vote for Social and Family Affairs.

Cross-cutting themes in the report

While the results of specific audits are outlined in individual chapters, the overall work of the year 2009 suggests a number of administrative matters that may merit consideration at this juncture.

?         The need to improve the capacity of departments to evaluate costs and benefits of proposed programmes so that evidence-based information and analysis is available to underpin decision making

?         The desirability of improving performance management and pushing ahead with performance frameworks for State bodies

?         The need to ensure that rationalisation of State bodies is accompanied by change management plans designed to ensure that amalgamated  services are reengineered to achieve process efficiency

?         The need to ensure that, where the State uses third parties to deliver programmes, there is an adequate control and inspection process to guarantee the regularity of expenditure and the correctness of the charge to public funds

?          The need to improve property management within major property-holding bodies such as the HSE, and to ensure that the Dublin property portfolio of the OPW is consolidated efficiently following decentralisation moves

?         The need to use random inspections and audits to better inform risk-based reviews, especially in the work of Revenue and the Departments of Social Protection and Agriculture.

 

Follow up on previous work

The report reviewed the progress achieved on a number of matters previously reported on. In particular, it noted that

?         The medical consultants? contract of employment agreed in 2008 envisaged that consultants would pay into a research and study fund any fees for private practice above the level specified in their employment contracts.  This provision is designed as a disincentive to excess private practice levels.  No such payments have yet been made.

?         An in-depth review provided reasonable assurance that payments for in patient treatment arranged by the National Treatment Purchase Fund, closely accorded with average contracted prices for treatments. However, some hospitals continue to have patients waiting for long periods and, in the case of out patient activity, waiting lists need to be validated.

?         There has been some movement towards getting better costing information to underpin the ?1.2 billion made available each year for disability services provided through non profit organisations. A range of information is now being submitted by most service providers.  However, the HSE needs to move to ensure that the information is comprehensive, consistent and reliable.

?         In its first year of operation, barrier-free tolling on the M50 generated net revenues of around ?65 million, including penalties and account management fees of ?11 million.  After meeting the annual buy out obligations (?52 million) and once-off costs of construction and quality assurance (?16 million), there was a small cash shortfall of ?3 million on the first year?s operation.

?         The report gives an update on the State?s liability for the occupational pensions of public servants and, for completeness, gives an estimate of the value of State Pensions that will be payable to citizens employed in the public service under integrated pension arrangements.

 

What happens to the Report?

The report is laid before Dáil ?reann and is available to inform examinations by the Committee of Public Accounts of designated officials - Accounting Officers - who are accountable for the administration of funds voted by Dáil ?reann for the services provided by Departments and Offices.  The Committee meets weekly and following the taking of evidence issues its own annual report with recommendations to the Minister for Finance.  The Minister responds outlining any administrative adjustments necessary to address its concerns.

 

Note for Editors

The Comptroller and Auditor General is the constitutional officer with responsibility for the audit of public funds. He is independent in the exercise of his functions and reports to Dáil ?reann in accordance with governing legislation.

The full text of this Report and the audited Accounts are available on the website of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General http://www.audgen.gov.ie/

For further information about the report, please contact Seamus McCarthy at 01-6031080 or email him at Seamus_McCarthy@audgen.irlgov.ie