Claims national children’s hospital board is hiding findings of 11 audits

The national children’s hospital board has been accused of hiding the findings of 11 more reviews and audits of the ballooning project’s financial controls and governance after refusing to immediately release the records.

Sinn Féin junior finance spokesman Jonathan O’Brien made the allegation after a spokesperson for the board refused to release the files to the Irish Examiner, saying it will instead comply with the PwC review.

As reported by the Irish Examiner last week, government and children’s hospital officials have spent nearly €700,000 on internal and external consultancy reviews of the project’s governance and financial controls in the past two years.

The scale of the review costs to date was outlined in files provided by the Department of Health to the Dáil’s public accounts committee in response to unanswered questions at a day-long meeting 12 days ago.

According to the documents, since February 2017 government and National Paediatric Hospital Development Board officials have commissioned 11 separate inquiries and reviews in addition to the €450,000 PwC report, including:

  • an internal audit service report to “close out a review of the GMP process”, costing €23,268 (Mazars, November 2018);
  • a review of “business continuity and disaster recovery”, costing €8,450 (Mazars, August 2018);
  • a contract management review, costing €3,689 (Deloitte, April 2017);
  • a stakeholder review, costing €3,759 (Deloitte, February 2017);
  • an independent review, costing €80,000 (DSSR, October 2018);
  • a benchmarking review, costing €39,500 (Aecom, December 2018);
  • an inflation overview of the Irish construction industry, costing nothing (Linesight, October 2018);
  • two C&AG audits in 2016 and 2017, costing €36,000 (C&AG, 2016-2017);
  • a review of the code of governance manual, costing €3,000 (Eversheds, May 2018);
  • a corporate governance review, costing €5,800 (Eversheds, July 2017);
  • and a “process to guaranteed maximum price” internal review, costing nothing (Internal report team, November 2018).

The Irish Examiner sought the release of the reports on Friday in response to calls from PAC member Jonathan O’ Brien for officials “to explain the full extent of their knowledge of the escalating cost”. 

However, a hospital board spokesperson declined the request, saying: “The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board is complying with information requests from both the PAC and the joint Oireachtas committee on health. It is also participating in the independent PwC review commissioned by the HSE. Beyond that, it doesn’t have any further comment to make.”

Responding to the refusal to release the reports, Mr O Brien said any transparency delay is “not good enough”.

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