A company which helps run the €1.234bn per year single farm payment scheme has earned more than €4.2m in payments for services to the Department of Agriculture over the past four years.
In 2008, Accenture was paid €385,604 for Single Payment System development and maintenance. This increased to €1,821,643 in 2009, and €1,639,708 in 2010. The payment to Accenture was €365,195 in 2011.
Technology consultants Accenture have helped the department since 2003 to develop the internet-based mapping system used to process EU funding entitlements to Irish farmers.
It is this system that allows the department to streamline interaction with farmers when processing their EU Area Aid payments. The single view system reduces the time required to process a claim submitted by a farmer and ensures accuracy and consistency of the data provided.
Grant application and payment processes are streamlined by combining business and geospatial data in a web-based system.
The application won the award for best project in Government to Business category in the Irish Innovation through Technology Awards 2005.
In the department’s previously used GIS system and a support mainframe system, considerable energy and effort were expended in performing repetitive manual processes and creating ad-hoc interfaces to validate applications and to process them through the support system.
A new, integrated system was needed to meet EU regulations and new reporting requirements, introduce new business efficiencies, and offer new web-enabled services to farmers.
This had to be delivered in less than a single payment cycle to allow the following year’s schemes to be supported.
It also allows full internet access for department employees in remote offices, and for individual farmers.
When Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney recently revealed details of payments to Accenture in the Dáil, he noted that it was one of the outsourced services for which department staff are not available, and which thus proves more cost effective.
Accenture has provided some senior consultancy services in the Department of Agriculture on a pro bono basis, as have KPMG and Deloitte.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved