There was “very little documentation” provided to justify continuing a multimillion-euro contract for the provision of IT services to An Garda Síochána, the Public Accounts Committee heard yesterday.
The contract in question, agreed with IT firm Accenture in 2009, was worth over €26m in 2016 alone — but should have been retendered within five years.
Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, head of internal audit Niall Kelly, and other senior Garda representatives appeared before the PAC yesterday to discuss a report Mr Kelly completed last year which raised a number of concerns about the arrangement.
Issues raised included a lack of verification for the hours worked by those providing the IT services, and a failure to establish a procurement process to put in place IT arrangements to succeed the five-year Accenture contract when it reached its conclusion.
Mr Kelly said that while there were “not a lot of new projects” in the final few years of the agreement, the IT services kept matters “ticking over”.
As there was no new contract in place in 2014, and because the gardaí lacked the internal IT expertise to maintain the level of service, the arrangement continued.
“We were in a situation where we had to keep the systems going,” Mr Kelly said.
However, when asked by committee members, Mr Kelly agreed that there is little or no documentation that points to any review or evaluation of Accenture’s performance when the decision was made to continue the contract.
“The level of detail that should have been there wasn’t there... there was very little documentation provided,” Mr Kelly said.
Mr Ó Cualáin said “the contract had been rolled over to ensure the continued operation of ICT services”, but that the issues raised in the audit are being addressed.
“For instance, since last year, all external staff working under the skilled resource contract in ICT are subject to the Garda electronic time recording system,” he said.
The IT contract has been broken up, and five different tenders are being sought for ICT service desk provision; IT operations; ICT security; ICT application development, and support for the Strategic Transformation Office.
“Subject to the outcome of the five tender processes, which are, of course, independent and operate via open competition, we would anticipate that reliance on a single provider in this area will significantly reduce,” Mr Ó Cualáin said.
“Over the past year, the number of in-house skilled resources in ICT has begun to increase, and will increase further in the coming years.
“Increased numbers and skills, combined with new structures in the ICT department, will reduce the level of dependency overall on external contractors,” he said.
Mr Kelly also revealed that he is currently engaged in an audit in relation to issues around the procurement of a contract for mediation services provided to the Garda Síochána’s human resources department.
He said he was close to finalising his report on the matter, but confirmed that he has concerns arising from the matter.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved