Fianna Fáil calls for further powers for Comptroller and Auditor General

Fianna Fáil has published a Bill that would give more power to the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) to investigate major infrastructure projects.

Following the huge overspend on the National Children’s Hospital, the opposition has called for strengthened oversight of capital projects.

The Bill would give extra powers to the C&AG to investigate all infrastructure projects as soon as they go over budget, and have a bidder’s previous history taken into account when assessing tenders.

The estimated cost of the new hospital – on the campus of St James’s Hospital in Dublin – has risen from an original estimate of €650m to more than €1.7bn.

Fianna Fáil’s Public Expenditure spokesman Barry Cowen said: “It’s blatantly clear to all that lots of changes are needed in the way the Government deals with capital development plans and projects.

“In the case of this instance, it’s our duty to ensure that we get to the bottom of what went wrong in this sorry debacle and mismanagement and without having the legislation to give that power to the C&AG, who are replying on PWC and our Oireachtas committees to ensure that information is forthcoming, that will present us with more mechanisms to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

“If a minister being informed of a potential overrun way and above what would have been envisaged within the contract, the C&AG would have the power to intervene, to adjudicate and make recommendations on behalf of the tax payer.

“It doesn’t interfere with its own independence, it merely acts as another layer of oversight.”

We need to learn the lessons from the National Children's Hospital

Fianna Fáil’s deputy leader Dara Calleary said the party is also reviewing the two-step procurement process.

He said: “We are trying to come up with solutions ensuring this kind of problem does not happen again. We have the expertise within the State service to identify those problems around addressing the complete inadequacies that have been highlighted by the hospital overrun.

“We need to learn the lessons from the National Children’s Hospital. There’s no sense in us blowing this up now without learning the lessons.

“We are taking a sensible decision in relation to this.”

Spokeswoman for Older People Mary Butler TD said: “People are very upset with the cost overruns on the National Children’s Hospital.

“Clarity is what is needed and certainty. There are a lot of areas throughout the whole country that are waiting to see what areas will be deferred and what are going forward.”

- Press Association

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