The National Transport Authority has rejected accusations of “gross mismanagement” after it emerged it is paying agency staff working for it double what it is paying its own full-time staff.
At a meeting of the Dail's spending watchdog this morning, the NTA was slammed after the body confirmed that the number of agency staff far exceeds the number of full-time staff.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard that on average full-time staff at the NTA are paid about €73,000 a year including PRSI and pension payments, while the average cost of each agency worker is nearly €140,000.
It was further explained to the committee that the vast majority of these agency workers are not performing specialised work but fulfilling “day-to-day” activities.
Several committee members were highly critical of the spend with Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy putting pressure on the Department of Transport to explain why this is the case.
PAC chairman Sean Fleming went through correspondence from the NTA in which the figures were contained and told his colleagues that at present there are 114 full-time staff and 150 outsourced agency work.
“It is outrageous, this represents gross mismanagement of their financial allocation,” said Mr Fleming.
In its documentation to the PAC, seen by the Irish Examiner, the NTA said there is a “significant cost premium attached to the use of outsourced placements” over NTA direct employees.
“On average, the cost of an outsourced placement is more than double the salary cost of an equivalent permanent role within the Authority,” it confirmed.
“In terms of the Authority’s resourcing mix, the overall aim of the NTA is to shift the 2019 ratio of ‘Direct Employees: Outsourced Placements’ (44% v 56%) to an approximate ratio of 68% direct employees and 32% outsourced placements,” it said.
In response to a query from the Irish Examiner, the NTA referred to comments made by officials who appeared before committee in recent weeks.
An NTA Spokesperson said: “National Transport Authority notes that issues around staffing in the organisation were raised at the Public Accounts Committee today.
“While the NTA would agree with the assertion that the organisation should be given sanction to recruit more permanent staff, the Authority rejects in no uncertain terms, the accusation of “gross mismanagement” that was levelled at it today.
“This matter was addressed in detail by NTA at the PAC meeting of 10 October. At that meeting, it was outlined by NTA CEO Anne Graham that NTA has itself consistently requested increased numbers of permanent staff so as to reduce the number of contractors employed by the organisation.
“Until such time as approval is granted to recruit additional personnel the NTA is required to operate within its sanctioned payroll limit for permanent employees.”