Whistleblower: No tender for HSE contracts

The Public Accounts Committee has called for a halt to lucrative State contracts being awarded without tenders, after a dossier on alleged misappropriate HSE spending was revealed.

PAC chairman John McGuinness voiced concern about HSE contracts going to former staff after disclosures by a whistleblower.

The Irish Examiner has obtained details of the dossier, which include allegations made by a Waterford-based social worker.

She told the committee the HSE was paying larges sums to former employees to conduct internal investigations into services for the disabled.

The social worker obtained details of the contracts awarded during her efforts to obtain a report into a complaint that a person, with intellectual disabilities, was sexually abused while in HSE care.

She said nearly €100,000 had been spent on an initial investigation, but no tender process had been used.

She added that payment of nearly €60,000 for a further review was given to a company founded by a former HSE employee, also without the contract going to tender.

The same company secured other paid HSE work and, it was claimed, engaged a number of former workers as directors.

The social worker also claimed another former employee was recommended by HSE staff to charities where investigations are needed, at a cost of €1,000 a day.

Fine Gael’s John Deasy said the claims were worrying. “The thought that somebody would be contracted and that they might have a potential conflict is very worrying,” he said.

“I think we need to find out the scale of this. One of the jobs of the committee would be to find out how widespread a practice this is, within the HSE.”

The Department of Public Expenditure secretary general Robert Watt said there should be sanctions for agencies if it was found there were conflicts of interests where contracts were awarded. Appearing before the PAC on agency spending, he said it was not appropriate that contracts were awarded without a tender process.

Mr McGuinness said somebody had to “stop the HSE in their tracks”. It was “farcical” to listen to these stories, he said, announcing the HSE would be called before the PAC next week.

Earlier, former minister for small firms John Perry criticised Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy for not carrying out audits of the National Procurement Office.

Mr McCarthy replied that his office did not audit every State agency every year.


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