€700k spent on reviews into children's hospital governance and financial controls; New hospital head announced

Government and national children's hospital officials have spent almost €700,000 on internal and external consultancy reviews of the projects' governance and financial controls in the past two years.

It comes as the Minister for Health Simon Harris announced that he intends to appoint Fred Barry as chairperson of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.

Mr Barry is a former chairperson of the National Roads Authority and Mr Harris thanked Mr Barry for taking up the role.

The scale of the review costs to date is outlined in files provided by the Department of Health to the Dáil's public accounts committee in response to unanswered questions at a day-long meeting last Thursday.

According to the documents, which have been seen by the Irish Examiner, since February 2017 Government and national paediatric hospital development board officials have commissioned 12 separate inquiries and reviews of aspects of the multi-billion euro project.

While the ongoing PwC review into the cost of the project itself is expected to come with a price tag of €450,000, 11 other reviews in the past two years have increased the public expense by more than another €200,000.

They involve four internal audits, six independent reports, and a further internal report, including:

* an internal audit service report to "close out a review of the GMP process", costing €23,268 (Mazars, November 2018)

* a review of "business continuity and disaster recovery", costing €8,450 (Mazars, August 2018)

* a contract management review, costing €3,689 (Deloitte, April 2017)

* a stakeholder review, costing €3,759 (Deloitte, February 2017)

* an independent review, costing €80,000 (DSSR, October 2018)

* a bench-marking review, costing €39,500 (Aecom, December 2018)

* an inflation overview of the Irish construction industry, costing nothing (Linesight, October 2018)

* two C&AG audits in 2016 and 2017, costing €36,000 (C&AG, 2016-2017)

* a review of the code of governance manual, costing €3,000 (Eversheds, May 2018)

* a corporate governance review, costing €5,800 (Eversheds, July 2017)

* and a "process to guaranteed maximum price" internal review, costing nothing (Internal report team, November 2018)

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Speaking to the Irish Examiner tonight, PAC member and Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien said the fact "over €650,000 has been spent on private consultants for reports and reviews is testament to the incompetence at the heart" of the project.

"It raises the question, what are officials at the Departments of Health and DPER actually doing?

“Minister Donohoe has stated that he only became aware of the cost overruns in November of 2018.

"The Minister, his department and officials need to explain the full extent of their knowledge of the escalating cost, and how information was escalated at the department," Mr O'Brien said.

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