Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General - Press Release VFM examination report on Regional Development Measures

Press Release issued on 15 March 1996

VFM examination report on Regional Development Measures

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr John Purcell, has carried out an examination into the effectiveness of the evaluations of spending programmes under the Regional Development Measures which formed part of the EU-aided Community Support Framework (CSF) for 1989-1993. The examination focused on six programmes which accounted for ?2.54 billion or 33 per cent of total expenditure under the CSF.

General Comment

Departments were required, as a condition of EU funding, to undertake reviews of the effectiveness of programmes and measures. However, departments were found generally not to have three basic elements which are needed to carry out meaningful effectiveness reviews

clear objectives incorporating measurable targets or appropriate indicators

on-going collection of data to facilitate analysis of progress and assist in the generation of measures and indicators

baseline data.

As a result, a number of examinations carried out by evaluators, at public expense, did not amount to reviews of effectiveness but concentrated largely on implementation and output statistics.

The Department of Finance has said that quantified objectives and indicators were not included in the CSF 1989-1993 because of time constraints. It has also said that the situation has been rectified in the CSF 1994-1999 where a set of specific quantified objectives at both macro and sectoral level have been identified. The baseline position together with a quantified forecast for 1999 has been established in these cases.

Specific Findings

Transport

In drawing up the transport programme, it was estimated that transport costs for Irish exporters were 9 per cent of total export costs. Later studies estimated that the true rate was around 4 per cent.

Targets were met on road construction measures.

Science and Technology

The approach adopted under the science and technology programme was largely supply driven e.g. it focused on supporting research in third level institutions, with the intention of subsequently transferring 'leading-edge' technology to industry. There was a low level of direct support for research and development within firms.

Some of the Programmes in Advanced Technology were ineffective and did not represent value for money but have since been redesigned and rationalised.

Tourism

The targeted increase in tourist numbers was not achieved although tourist revenue projections were met.

Monitoring of the programme was unsatisfactory. There was a delay in finalising progress reports which were a prerequisite to the timely drawdown of EU funds.

The effectiveness of some marketing grants was questionable.

Small and Medium Industry

Little evaluation was carried out on individual measures for job creation. This deficiency has been acknowledged and new arrangements have been made to collect data to facilitate future evaluations.

Marketing and Export Promotion

Overall export targets were achieved but more detailed evaluation of specific measures is needed.

Water and Sanitary Services

The water and sanitary services projects selected for funding did not conform to EU specified criteria.

There was a tendency for costs to increase between design, tender and completion stages of projects.

The Department of the Environment's initial attempt at assessing the impact of projects had to be abandoned.

Pre-1989 Measures

The examination also reviewed the outturn for the pre-1989 Regional Development Measures. It found that a ?51 million reduction had been made in Ireland's EU funds allocation. Some of this reduction occurred because of inefficiency in substituting new projects for projects which did not proceed as planned. The lack of co-ordination between departments was responsible for a significant proportion of EU allocations decommitted.

For further information about the report contents, please contact:

Seamus McCarthy

Tel: +353 1 6793122

Fax: +353 1 679 3288

e-mail: Seamus_McCarthy@audgen.irlgov.ie

Publication Details

VFM Report No. 6: Regional Development Measures

ISBN 0-7076-2329-4

Price ?10

Government Publications Sales Office

Sun Alliance House

Molesworth Street

Dublin 2

Tel: + 353 1 661 3111

Fax: +353 1 475 2760


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