Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General - Press Release Report on Value for Money examination of the Irish Genealogical Project

Press Release issued on 22 April 1997

Report on Value for Money examination of the Irish Genealogical Project

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr John Purcell, has carried out an examination on the extent to which the Irish Genealogical Project (IGP) has succeeded in creating a computerised database of relevant genealogical information and in delivering a national family history research service. The Comptroller and Auditor General's report was presented to Dáil ?reann on 22 April 1997.


In 1988, a Government Task Force on Genealogy and Tourism concluded that there was potential for exploiting genealogy as a means of promoting tourism by developing a national genealogical project. The IGP involved the establishment of a network of centres throughout the country using FÁS-funded trainees to compile a comprehensive and accurate computerised database of all the major genealogical records available, covering all geographic areas. In addition, it was envisaged that a system for marketing and delivering a reliable family history research service would be implemented.

Funding by public sector agencies for the project between January 1988 and July 1996 amounted to approximately ?15 million, of which ?12.5 million related to expenditure by FÁS, mainly on allowances to trainees.

Value for Money Examination Findings

In 1990 it was anticipated by independent consultants that the genealogical database would be completed within 3 years. By mid-1996 it was estimated that less than 30% of the estimated 29 million target records had been captured on the IGP’s computer system.

Participating centres have no access to a quarter of the target records.

Thirteen percent of the records to be included in the database relate to geographic areas (Counties Louth, Monaghan, Wicklow and parts of County Cork) which are not covered by genealogical centres participating in the project.

The specially designed computer equipment is not available in all participating centres.

Examination of a sample of the records on six local centres’ databases revealed that almost 3.7% of the records examined contained critical errors involving the recording of incorrect facts. This error rate is eleven times the rate that the IGP’s quality control procedures allow.

Despite the major investment since 1988, business levels at genealogical centres have not increased significantly.

Large variations in prices charged to customers were found when the participating centres were surveyed.

A Chief Executive Officer, identified as critical to the success of the project in 1990, was not appointed until August 1996.

FÁS, Bord Fáilte and SFADCo committed substantial resources to the IGP. However, they did not take a lead role in developing the project and have not committed themselves to funding the project’s completion.

The monitoring of progress in implementing the IGP has been ineffective. No budget or measurable targets were set and the gathering of relevant management information was sporadic and generally incomplete.

Although the IGP was established as a means of stimulating extra tourism business and distributing tourism more widely, no targets have been set for these objectives and no mechanism is in place to measure the tourism performance attributable to the project.

For further information about the report contents, please contact:

Seamus McCarthy

Tel: +353 1 679 3122

Fax: +353 1 679 3288


Publication Details

VFM Report No. 14: The Irish Genealogical Project

ISBN 0-7076-3827-1

Price ?5

Government Publications Sales Office

Sun Alliance House

Molesworth Street

Dublin 2

Tel: +353 1 661 3111

Fax: +353 1 475 2760

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