Approximately €25 million has been committed and has been sitting in an account for up to eight years while organisations cry out for this money. It gives a whole new meaning to "dormant". At least some people can get money out of that account even if they come back but this seems to be more dormant than the dormant account the National Treasury Management Agency, NTMA, manages. We will be doing a periodic report. I do not think this system works. I do not think it needs a review. There has been €25 million sitting there for years with nothing happening, with organisations crying out for it which serve the most deserving groups of people in society with regard to people with economic and social disadvantage, educational disadvantage and persons with disabilities. That €25 million has been sitting there for nine years and the witnesses do not even know its position. That is woeful.
One of the problems, though not caused by the witnesses since they are the people administering it, is that the chart from the Comptroller and Auditor General indicates that there are schemes being administered by ten different Departments. That is on page 105, chart 7.3 in the Comptroller and Auditor General's report. The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government had a major underspend, as did the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Health, the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs which spent only 6% of what was approved, the Department of Education and Skills which spent 25%, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection which spent half of it, and the Prison Service which spent only a fraction of it. It is no wonder that this system does not work when it is spread across ten different Departments. There is a fund managed by the NTMA and it is a good idea to have it. The witnesses make a provision to have some money to go back. They engaged Pobal to administer it, having come up with the policy, and then there are different schemes across ten different Departments. How could anybody know where to go for this money? It is no wonder it is lost in the system.
I have to contrast this. How much has the Department of Rural and Community Development paid out over the years? Some €275 million. We have to look at this with regard to value for money and good public administration. We all look at what we call the sports capital programme. It hands out that type of money every time there is a round. The applicants know what to do. It is well publicised. They get their forms in. The level of detail they have to get in is extraordinary. There is a sunset clause and the Department, without having to go to Pobal or ten other Departments, is able to administer it, make sure it functions properly, get the documentation in after approval is given and pay for the works when they are done, subject to audit, verification and so on. That system works well. This system is not working at all. The Department would be better off asking the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport if it would second half a dozen staff to the Department of Rural and Community Development, and getting rid of Pobal and the ten different Departments. It is not just a question of the three people. They are probably busy drawing up schemes and policy statements for ten different Departments, and ten Departments are drawing up schemes to implement it. It is the worst level of duplication across Departments that I have encountered in my time as Chairman here. None of it is the witnesses' fault. They inherited this last year. I would be of a mind, when we are issuing our interim report, to state that the system as it operates has to be called to a halt. It is not transparent. It is all over the place. Nobody can follow it. The Department even has trouble following it. There is money as much as nine years old with no sunset clause. We all have sight of one Department or another which would administer a scheme of this scale and nature with its hand tied.
Maybe people will utterly disagree with me but I am amazed at how poorly this system operates. I have no confidence that it will be any better next year. This matter of calling it a timing difference and aligning funding coming from the Dormant Account Fund versus the annual Estimates is, as just mentioned, something done by the Department I just mentioned. It gets an Estimate for a programme and we know it will be a couple of years before some of the funding will be drawn down for the sports capital programme. There is a prototype in the public service of how to administer a fund like this. One of our jobs is, when we find something working well, to try to replicate it in other areas which do similar work in a very cumbersome manner. This is designed to be cumbersome. It involves ten different Departments and ten different types of scheme and there is probably a variety of different schemes within those Departments. It would be impossible for people to deal with. Without going into further detail, I think the witnesses understand our frustration. Deputy Burke started on the matter and other people have spoken on it. I do not think this system is working well and the public service is capable of getting a far more streamlined and effective service to deliver the money. When we are back in our constituency clinics tomorrow, we will all have people from groups suffering from economic and social disadvantage, educational disadvantage, and persons with disability, coming to us to seek funds. If we tell them that there is €25 million which has not been spent for those years, they will give out to us and ask if we are not doing our job. Our job is to highlight when we see that a system is broken. It is almost irredeemable in its current format. I stress that it is not an issue for the NTMA side of the house. It is probably doing its end of it fine. The rest of the system is not working and there is a simple way to make it work in the interests of the citizens that we should be serving.
That was a bit of a speech as well as a question. I call Deputy Murphy.