Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General

Press Release

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr John Purcell, has today published a report on his examination of certain shortcomings in financial control and management in the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS).

Main Findings

  • A new computerised system, which is intended to bring the IBTS's blood tracking and security up to best industry practice, is over three years late in completion. It was planned to be in operation by late 1999, but is not now expected to be in place until mid-2003. The project was estimated to cost ?4.26 million but will actually cost over ?9 million. Implementation was delayed by the discovery, during testing, of control weaknesses in the new system's design and by industrial relations problems that had to be resolved in the Labour Court.
  • The IBTS incurred a deficit of ?4.5 million in 2000. It did not have a comprehensive budgeting or costing system in place during 2000-2001 but, rather, it budgeted at an overall organisational level and used the budget forecast information to calculate price increases for the following year. The IBTS has since introduced fully devolved departmental budgets and assigned responsibility for cost centres to budget managers and holders. The new system is expected to facilitate more accurate pricing across product lines.
  • The IBTS encountered severe cash-flow problems during 2000 and 2001 that resulted in delayed payments to suppliers and, as a consequence, interest penalties of ?321,000 under the Prompt Payment of Accounts Act, 1997. The cash-flow problem was caused by delayed issue of sales invoices in the early part of the year, the cost of representation at the Lindsay Tribunal and delayed reimbursement by the Department of Health and Children of expenditure on capital projects. These factors have been addressed and the IBTS has since introduced revised cash-flow monitoring and projection systems. It expected to have reduced its overdraft facility from ?4.76 million to ?1 million by January 2003.

Note 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

For further information about the report, please contact: John Buckley at (01) 6031025 or at

The contents of this page were last updated on 26/09/03