Purchase of Komori Printing Press and Related Matters: Houses of the Oireachtas Service and Office of Public Works

Mr. Peter Finnegan(Secretary General, Houses of the Oireachtas Service) called and examined.

This afternoon we are meeting with the Houses of the Oireachtas Service and the Office of Public Works regarding the purchase of a Komori printing press and related matters. We received a report two weeks ago from the Accounting Officer in the Houses of Oireachtas Service, Mr. Peter Finnegan, who is also Clerk of the Dáil, on difficulties experienced and a number of significant additional costs incurred following the purchase of a new printing press. We received from Mr. Finnegan a second report, to which we referred this morning under correspondence No. 2636B, on Tuesday with further clarifications. We also discussed and considered the related item of correspondence from the Office of Public Works, No. 2635B.

We are joined this afternoon by the following people: from the Houses of the Oireachtas Service, Mr. Peter Finnegan, Secretary General, and Ms Máirín Devlin, Office of the Commission and Secretary General; from the Office of Public Works Mr. John McMahon, commissioner, heritage and building services, and Mr. Jim O'Sullivan, assistant chief engineer, mechanical and electrical services.

I remind members, witnesses and those in the Public Gallery that all mobile phones must be switched off. That means putting them onto airplane mode as merely putting them onto silent can still interfere with the recording system.

I advise the witnesses that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. If they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to do so, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

While we expect witnesses to answer questions asked by the committee clearly and with candour, witnesses can and should expect to be treated fairly and with respect and consideration at all times, in accordance with the witness protocol.

May we have Mr. Finnegan's opening remarks, please?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I thank the Chairman for the invitation. I am in a slightly different position from the position I was in on 11 July in that my knowledge of this matter is many times greater than it was then as a result of three weeks I have spent looking at various documentation and speaking to the relevant parties that were involved in this purchase of the Komori printing press. It is important to put the narrative on the record because it will contextualise some of the questions and may indeed answer some of them.

The story starts with the business cases that were developed for the purchase of the printing equipment and the printing press in 2017. A business case was developed which was put before the management board of the Houses of the Oireachtas. The fundamental reason for buying the Komori printer was twofold: first, the age of the existing machines-----

When things such as the management board are referred to, can the witnesses outline who is involved?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Sure.

Can Mr. Finnegan tell us who they are and where they are in the structure?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Absolutely. If it is of help, I have that information in the appendix to the report, so they can see that there. The management board is the board of senior managers within the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is chaired by me as Clerk of the Dáil and Secretary General. On the board we have our four assistant secretaries, the Clerk of the Seanad, a representative of our PO group and, finally, one external member. The management board meets monthly and its meetings feed into the commission meetings.

It is an executive committee, not a parliamentary committee.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is an executive committee. The Chairman is correct.

The management board received a business case on 6 November. As I said, two main reasons were advanced for the purchase of the Komori printing press. First was the age of the existing equipment.

In 2017, the equipment we had on hand at that stage was 12 years old. The equipment was purchased in 2004 and I believe it went into operation in 2005, so we were looking at equipment that was fully depreciated. It was also proving increasingly unreliable so in terms of the maintenance costs we would incur on equipment of that age, we were spending probably about €45,000 per year on maintenance. In addition to that, we were incurring about €20,000 in spare parts when repairs were needed. I am advised by the print manager that it was not an infrequent occurrence to have a mechanic out repairing the two printing presses.

If we look at it purely in cost terms over five years and ask if the argument for buying a printing press stacks up, we note the cost of maintenance and repairs comes in at around €65,000 a year. If we multiply that by five, we are at €325,000. In addition, we were faced with a decision that if we were to continue with the Heidelberg printing presses, we would have to do a major overhaul of them because of their age. That was expected to cost €170,000. In very round terms, therefore, the cost of retaining the Heidelberg printing press over five years was somewhere of the order of €500,000. When we look at that in the context of the purchase of a new machine, and the new Komori printing press came in at €848,000, we can see the financial sense in terms of moving from the old Heidelberg to the new machine.

The second point to note is the volume of the printing. We have a significant printing operation. Last year, the Oireachtas produced, and I have produced the statistics in the report, of the order of 16 million print impressions. The year before that it was 21 million. If we go back to 2015, we produced 26 million print impressions, so the Oireachtas printing unit is quite a sizeable operation. In the circumstances, we need good, robust, versatile, well-built equipment. That was the reason we went out to tender.

In addition to the printing press, we needed a number of other items of printing equipment. We produced a tender and split it into five lots. The reason we split it into five lots was to maximise competition, and particularly to enable small and medium sized enterprises to compete for the business. That is something we like to do as a matter of policy in the Houses of the Oireachtas Service. The tender was published on 5 March 2018. The records we have obtained show that 12 companies downloaded the tender documentation from eTenders so there was a fair degree of interest, naturally enough, in the contract. That is not surprising, given the expected value.

The site visits during the tender period, which would be a normal activity during tendering, took place on 21 March. At that stage, people could go and look at the print unit. On foot of those site visits, clarifications were received on 29 March. All of those clarifications were answered and the results circulated to all of the parties concerned. The closing date for the tender was 5 April 2018.

In terms of what the request for tenders document sought in respect of the printer, the precise wording was that the tender must be able to fit into a room 12 m by 5.8 m by 2.5 m. The most important measurement is the last one, the 2.5 m, which would have been the ceiling height of the printing unit. We also stipulated that there needed to be an acceptable work area around the press.

When the tenders were subsequently received we only got one tender in, despite the initial level of interest, for the printing press. That came from Komori. In the tender response document, which I reviewed as part of the preparation of the report, Komori ticked the box saying that it met the minimum specification in that the printing press could fit into the room with those dimensions, with an acceptable work area around it. Underneath the box with the minimum specifications a note was included. The words of that note are important. They state that the headroom from the press foot boards to the ceiling is limited.

During the tender period, one of the clarifications received was from Komori. Komori asked the print facility if there was a false ceiling and, if so, if there was a height greater than 2.5 m available. The response they got back from the print facility was that there was a false ceiling and that there was an extra 35 cm available. That increased the available height from 2.5 m to 2.85 m.

To give the members a sense of the Komori printing press, it is a big machine. It is 7.4 m long, 3.2 m wide and 1.98 m in height. I spoke to somebody in the print industry recently about it and asked him how he would describe this type of machine. This would be a very experienced person in the industry. He said it was a very versatile machine. It is the type of machine one would buy if one is doing short runs, long runs and if one has many different types of print requirement, which is exactly the position we are in. He also said it was a well-built machine. He said that the company he runs has a number of different makes of printing press and that the Komori is the best of the ones he has; that is his personal view. The third comment he made was that it is economical in terms of the purchase price of the press and that it was an economical press to run. The evidence I have received is that it is a good, solid printing press.

The other point to remember about printing is that most commercial printing is a 24-7 type of operation. A printing press like this one gives us greater capacity in that area. At the moment, we run two shifts in the print unit but, going forward, there are other options as well.

Following the submission of the tenders, the evaluation team looked at them. I have listed the members of the evaluation team in an appendix. Would the Chairman like me to read it out for the record?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The evaluation team is the fifth group shown. The project manager, who is basically the head of the evaluation team, is the print manager. We had the print supervisor from the print facility. The project sponsor was a principal officer who is the head of communications. We had a procurement unit representative, and we also had an external procurement consultant who has done a substantial amount of work with the Houses of the Oireachtas over the years.

The evaluation team looked at all of the tenders, including the one on the Komori printing press. As I said in my report, the evidence I got was that they missed the statement on the bottom of the page, which said that the head height was limited. They proceeded to arrange a clarification meeting with Komori, being the single tender, which would be standard practice. Five Oireachtas staff members attended that meeting and three representatives from Komori - the managing director, the project director and also the managing director of their Irish agent. A variety of issues were discussed at that meeting. I have looked at the report. Interestingly, head height did not come up at that meeting. At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that Komori would submit various documents by way of clarification. Standard things one would expect in any type of procurement process would be the engineering team, the software support, the organisational chart and so on.

In fairness to them, they were very forthcoming. It is difficult for people who find themselves in a situation where they have made a serious error but I commend them on the way they have faced up to it. It is my conclusion that the mistakes that were made were honest mistakes and that is the expression I used in my report. Ultimately, the staff were trying to do their best for Members. They were trying to improve the quality of the services that we provide to Members by upgrading the printing equipment which, as I said, was 12 years old and was going to be very costly to keep on the road. The aim was to replace it with a new, modern, well-built and versatile printing press. That is the narrative. On the building side, I would have to defer to Mr. McMahon if anyone wants to know about the detail of some of the construction works. Essentially, that is the position as I found it when I conducted my investigation and drew up my report.

Those papers were submitted on 25 April 2018 and included among them was a drawing, which I think I have included as an appendix to the report. Committee members can see it is a drawing by a professional engineer or draughtsperson. It is Appendix B of the report on the machine. I have spoken to the managing director of Komori's Irish agent who told me the submission of such a drawing would be standard during a procurement process, particularly at that stage. That drawing recommended a minimum ceiling height of 3.16 m. As I said in my report, that drawing was sent to the procurement unit. I cannot find any evidence that it was sent to the print facility. In fact, the issue does not actually turn on that, as will become evident in a minute.
The next stage in the process was for the Oireachtas contracts committee to meet and consider the matter. I have listed the Oireachtas contracts committee at the very bottom of the Appendix C. It is chaired by a principal officer who works in the committee secretariat. It includes two assistant principal officers, one from the ICT unit and one from the Debates unit. It includes higher executive officers from the Library and Research Service, the Finance unit and the Journal Office and the secretariat is provided by the procurement team. The committee has a role in a number of areas. It is charged under its terms of reference with reviewing contracts where it is proposed for exceptional reasons not to have a competitive process, and this did not apply in this instance, or where only one tender was received in response to an advertisement or invitation to tender and the contract value is in excess of €65,000 exclusive of VAT. This is the heading under which this tender was referred. The third reason, which is not relevant but I will say it for the record, is where it is proposed not to accept the lowest priced tender. The Oireachtas contracts committee considered the tender and signed off on it. That day, Komori was informed by letter that it was the preferred bidder for the contract.
The next important event in the narrative was on 21 May when a team from Komori came in and took measurements. I spoke to the managing director of the Irish agent who was present on that day. His evidence to me was the issue of head height was absolutely discussed at it but everybody in the room was happy there was sufficient head height to install that printer. He said they then moved on to other technical issues related to the installation of the printer. He also said that one of the reasons they were satisfied with it was that 90% of the work on the printer is done from the very lowest platform and in the case of the lowest platform head height is not an issue because the 2.1 m clearance can be achieved when standing on the lowest platform. He said in relation to the tasks that must be carried out from higher platforms they can also be done from the lower platform. There was no real concern in the room or no sense that head height was a particular issue. The measurements were done and a number of days later Komori sent in the drawing that was submitted on 25 April to the print facility manager. The drawing was sent in connection with discussions being had on installation. Essentially, this was how the new printing press would be delivered and installed in the Oireachtas printing unit.
The next most significant date is 31 May. On that date the contract was signed. The day before that, the print facility emailed our facilities unit stating it had procured a new printer, that it reckoned certain work needed to be done including removing doorframes, which would be pretty standard, and asking the facilities unit look to at the matter. That process got under way. On 14 August 2018, the OPW came back and said it reckoned more significant work was required because of the head height requirement. The OPW architect at the time had done her own research and came to the view that the height available in the print room was insufficient to meet the various regulations, including machinery directives and building regulations. At that stage, further investigations had to be done and Mr. McMahon will fill in the committee on the detail of these investigations. From the files I have reviewed there appears to have been quite a lot of over and back.
The other thing that is very evident is that in parallel with what was happening in the printing unit we were also working on the historic Leinster House restoration project. There was pressure on the time of architects and engineers and all of that had to be managed as part of the process.
In December, the printing press had been delivered from Japan and it was being held in storage. A decision was made by the project sponsor that we should pay for it because we had the money set aside in our budget for 2018; there were no funds earmarked for 2019; 60% of the cost of the press was due anyway on delivery; and the delays in terms of installation were very much down to problems on the Oireachtas side. The project sponsor went to our Office of the Parliamentary Legal Adviser and asked them to draw up an addendum to the contract which would give the Oireachtas full title over the machine. That was done and the addendum was signed. I received a submission on 12 December from the project sponsor setting out the issue. When I was satisfied as Accounting Officer that there was a legal obligation to pay the money and that the title was secured I authorised the payment.
I should say in relation to the addendum that the expectation at that time was that the printing press would be installed at Easter 2019. It was anticipating somewhere of the order of three months before the printing press was installed. As it turned out, it took considerably longer than that. The works eventually got under way in the middle of July 2019. They were handed back to the print facility on 12 November. In the meantime, the printing press was delivered on 28 September.
That brings the story up to date in terms of the issues initially of concern. I have set out in the report where we are now. It is pretty much as is in the report from two days ago. We are doing our health and safety assessments. We have a health and safety adviser who does a lot of this for us. He is doing that in terms of his workflow and also doing some workflow assessments that were raised by the staff. The expectation is that those assessments will be ready by 20 December, which is Friday week. That is the objective. Subject to everything being okay from a health and safety point of view and in terms of workflow, at that point it should be possible, in conjunction with the staff, to start the process of training and operation of the printing press.
As I said in my report at the end of my opening remarks, there is absolutely no doubt that mistakes were made in this project. A series of mistakes was made. My investigations included reviewing documents and speaking to the personnel involved.

I thank Mr. Finnegan for outlining the situation. A number of people have indicated that they want to speak and will be invited to do so in the following order: Deputies Catherine Murphy, Munster, Cullinane, Connolly, Cassells and Farrell. We will try to stick to ten minute slots, rather than having one lead speaker.

The witnesses are very welcome. I should declare at the outset that I am also member of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission which had a robust exchange on this issue recently. It is fair to say that as a consequence of that exchange, there will be exceptional reporting so that matters such as this will be brought to the attention of the commission. The issues of insufficient head height in the building and significant additional works having to be carried out to fit the machine in were as much of a surprise to the commission as they were to anyone else.

A number of issues arise relating to procurement. There was a single response to the printer tender. Was the tender published on a Europe-wide basis? There was only one bid for the printing press contract. Was there more interest in supplying the other machinery that was purchased?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Ultimately we received one tender back in respect of each of the lots that we went out for. We went for five lots in total and were in a single tender situation in respect of each one.

That is very disappointing in the context of competition. How is a tender evaluated when it is the only one?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

As I said in my opening remarks, when one is in a single tender situation one does a normal evaluation in terms of requirements and so forth. One asks if the tender meets the requirements. Then, under our governance structure, one submits the tender to the Oireachtas contracts committee. That is the process.

It was unusual to get just two responses. It was advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union but that was the level of interest from the market at the time.

Obviously this is of major public concern.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I accept that.

That concern is very understandable because a machine was bought that did not fit. We are trying to get to the point where lessons are learned, responsibility is taken and there are consequences.

In a previous discussion at this committee, reference was made to the fact that the machine in question comes in different shapes. It was suggested that a model of a different shape would not have caused a problem vis-à-vis the room height. Is that accurate?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The evidence I have is that in order to print the volume done of printing done in the Oireachtas, which is the equivalent of what would be done in a commercial printing works, one needs a machine of the size that was ordered. The people I have spoken to-----

My question is about the actual shape of the machine.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The height is the key issue. My understanding from discussions with various people is that once one gets into that scale of printing, one gets back a machine that has a particular height. The height that we got back is in or around what one would expect.

Does that machine come in a different shape?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No. I am told that it does not.

That has been said.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That is factually incorrect.

If one were to add up the number of people who looked at this, it is puzzling that this issue was not noticed but the sequencing was wrong in the buying process. The sequencing should have been such that architects are brought in first. Is that accepted? What lessons will be learned from this?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That is the very first lesson that I have identified in my report. I said that there were a number of lessons that stand out and these will be addressed as a matter of priority. The very first one is that all of the project teams must include specialist architectural expertise where a project could involve structural modifications and where appropriate, legal external subject matter and health and safety expertise. In reality, if this project had been run the way one would have expected, we would have had an architect on the team. Discussions would have taken place at a very early stage and those discussions would have been reflected in the nature of the business case. The business case that was received referred to the purchase of an asset but did not make any reference whatsoever to ancillary works. This was looked at by a range of people within the Oireachtas, not just the project team. At the time, we had a committee that looked at business cases of this nature. That committee examined the business case. The committee in question is the business and strategy committee which was headed by the then Superintendent. It also included the head of communications at principal level, a principal from committees, a principal from the Office of Parliamentary Legal Adviser, a principal from the Oireachtas Library and Research Service, the principal and head of finance of the Office of the Commission and Secretary General, the chief translator and an assistant principal at the Office of the Commission and Secretary General. All of those people looked at it. In actual fact, three or four of the members of that business and strategy sub-committee went over to the printing unit. They went into the rooms where the printer was going to be installed but the issue of height never actually came up. There was no sense at all that height was an issue. When one looks back at the papers and the evidence, one sees that the perspective was that the project involved the purchase of an asset and the complexities around the installation of that asset were not considered at all. It was just assumed that the asset that we were purchasing, the new printing press, could replace the old Heidelberg printing presses. That was how it was at the time.

Deputy Munster is next.

Mr. Finnegan said in his opening remarks that he is on the management board or management committee.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I am, yes.

Was he involved from the start?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No, other than when the management board received the business case.

Will Mr. Finnegan clarify if he works on a one-year or three-year budget?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Three.

Since it is a three-year budget, is it the case that a decision was taken, because the Oireachtas Service had money left over and Mr. Finnegan did not want to hand it back to the Central Fund, to go on a shopping spree? Was it a rush job? The decision made in this regard resulted in a printer being bought that was too big for the printing room. Is that the case? It did not fit in the print room.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It did not fit. The motivation for buying this printer was, first and foremost, to service the needs of Members. There was no other motivation. If we were not concerned with servicing the needs of Members and their printing requirements, we would not have done what we did. That was our motivation first and foremost.

We operate on the basis of a three-year budget. When we draw up our budgets, we look at what we need to do from a business point of view. One thing we needed to do was to replace the old Heidelberg printing presses. They were 12 years old and were going to cost us a further €500,000 over the next five years. It made absolute business sense and was a very sound business proposition to replace those.

That Heidelberg printer was not due to be replaced until 2021. Is that right?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No.

I read somewhere that it was not due to be replaced until 2021. I asked the question about rushing into it and going on a shopping spree because in response to a question that my colleague, Deputy Cullinane, asked, Mr. Finnegan stated: "the increase of €9.7 million resulted from a strategic decision that we did because there was funding available in the final year of our three-year budgetary cycle." The service basically recommended to the commission that we bring forward ICT expenditure. Is it not the case that this is the reality of what happened?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No, it is not.

Mr. Finnegan stated in his first report that no discussion arose in respect of the cost of the works in the course of his appearance before the Committee of Public Accounts in July. He was aware of the matter.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I was because I had a briefing note, which I also inserted in my reports.

I am sure Mr. Finnegan will agree that we are not playing cat and mouse here. He was aware of it. There is a certain expectation that when people come before this committee that they will be forthcoming with any information and that Accounting Officers will provide full and honest accounts for whatever organisations they represent. I find it deeply concerning that Mr. Finnegan did not mention this matter and that his response was to the effect that the question did not arise. Can he provide a better explanation?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It might help in explaining that if I outline what it is like on this side of the room as opposed to where the Deputy is seated. When one receives an invitation to attend the Committee of Public Accounts, it is one of the most important things that one will do as a Secretary General. A Secretary General is statutorily responsible for expenditure in the organisation that he or she leads. It is a very important engagement that one gives one's full energy and attention to in the run-up to it. As part of the preparations for it, one will receive various briefing notes. The reason that a Secretary General makes sure to have as much information as possible is that he or she knows, when coming into this room, that he or she could be asked literally anything by anybody. There are no limits on the questions that can be asked. On the previous occasion on which I was here, there were no limits on the questions that were asked of me. I was asked about matters that were not my financial responsibility at all. In order to be helpful to the committee, I answered them as well as I could.

This was not a trivial issue. It involves a substantial-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The Deputy might let me finish my answer.

Let Mr. Finnegan finish.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

In fairness, I think I should finish my answer and then Deputy Munster can come back in. There were no limits on what could be asked. I came in and I gave honest and truthful evidence. I was asked specific questions and I gave the best answers I could at that time. As Accounting Officer, all one can do is answer the questions one is asked.

That is the concern. Mr. Finnegan said that coming to the Committee of Public Accounts is an important engagement and that it is important that he gives as much information as possible. There was a gaping hole in the information that he gave. To not even mention a cost overrun of that magnitude on the basis that the question did not arise, when the subject was being spoken about, gives rise to serious concerns.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Can I respond to that?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

There was not a gaping hole in the information. As Accounting Officer, this was fully discussed with the team from the Comptroller and Auditor General's office insofar as we had information. To be fair to everybody concerned, the level of information that we had then is completely different to what we have now. On foot of that discussion, a note was inserted in the account. The primary focus of the Committee of Public Accounts when an Accounting Officer such as myself attends is to examine the account. That information was disclosed and it would be disingenuous to say that it was not.

My point is that Mr. Finnegan was aware of it when he was before the Committee of Public Accounts.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

So was the Deputy because it was in the account before her.

I was not a member of the committee in July. Mr. Finnegan was aware that a complete hames had been made of it, that the printer was so big that it did not fit into the printing room and serious adjustments would have to be made to accommodate the printer. Was he not aware of that?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I was aware that there were difficulties with the printer.

That is my question. Mr. Finnegan was aware of it.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

If the Deputy will let me finish, with regard to my level of awareness, I had a limited amount of knowledge available that day. I think I put in the report what I could have said had that issue been asked of me. It was very limited at that time.

On page 1 of the report, Mr. Finnegan states: "Having analysed the print production statistics and the financial cost of the Komori printing press I am firmly of the opinion that the business case for purchasing it is still sound."

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

That sound business case that Mr. Finnegan refers to did not involve knocking down walls, raising ceilings, a new air conditioning unit, moving to another print room and an overrun of upwards of €700,000.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Is that a question?

Yes. Mr. Finnegan said that, in his opinion, the business case for purchasing it is still sound.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes, it is.

Mr. Finnegan would stand over it still being sound even though the business case he refers to did not involve knocking down walls, raising ceilings, a new air conditioning unit, having to move to a different print room and an overrun of €700,000.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The business case is still sound. I will explain why. A challenge that we face in the Oireachtas is accommodation. The print unit is installed and operates from Kildare House. In Kildare House, we not only have a significant number of staff who run our committees and do translations for us, but we also have a broadcasting unit, a crèche-----

I am talking specifically about the printer and that business case.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That is correct, and I am coming to it if the Deputy could just bear with me. We have a broadcasting unit, a crèche, a gym and a print facility. The reality that we face as an organisation is that when we have to do a piece of major equipment installation it invariably involves structural works. I looked back, just to satisfy myself, to see what was the scale of the works that were done in 2004 when the original print equipment went in. The cost of the works in 2004 was twice the cost of the works that took place in connection with the Komori printer. That gives some sense of the scale of what has to be done when equipment needs to be installed in the Oireachtas. We are not an organisation that has the luxury of installing equipment in a greenfield site. We are not Google down in the docks. We are an organisation that functions from Dublin 2 in very cramped conditions and invariably costs arise as a result of that.

I am saying it on the basis that the reason Mr. Finnegan is here today is that the business case he considered sound turned out to be useless.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No, I suppose the business case-----

I am amazed at how Mr. Finnegan can still say it is sound.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I will just come back to that and look at it in another way. The business case was designed to purchase equipment to service the printing requirements of Members. That is a statutory obligation that the organisation has. In my view, it is very difficult to argue that the replacement of a printing press at €850,000, with additional costs for adaptations, etc., is not a better option than continuing with 12-year old machinery and investing more than €500,000 in that. If I did that, I would also be here before the committee and members would be rightly challenging me on whether or not I had made the right decision.

Was it in the business case that the supplier would measure the room first and then provide a printer? Was that either in the business case or in the contract?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That type of thing is not in a business case, but it would be part of the procurement process.

Was it in the contract?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It was in the request for tender, RFT.

Right. Okay, but it was not in the business case. That is the problem.

We have just gone beyond the time.

I have just one final question. Pages 9 and 10 of the report refer to the print facility equipment. Does the new printing press require all the additional things that are listed in order to be operational? I refer to the plate-making device, the guillotines and folding machines.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

These are all part of the printing process but my understanding is-----

Could the new printing press work without those additional pieces of equipment?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I think two of them are directly connected to it, but I would need to talk to a print expert to be able to answer that question. It is beyond my level of technical knowledge.

Okay, so they may or may not be required for the new printer to be operational.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

What I am saying is that I cannot answer the question because I do not have the technical knowledge.

It is just that they are listed in the report and one would imagine Mr. Finnegan would know off-hand whether they are required or just part of the shopping spree.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I am sorry.

One would imagine that given that they are in the report, Mr. Finnegan would know whether they were actual requirements when we are dealing with taxpayers' money, or whether they were just part of a shopping spree. Are they required for the new printing press to be operational?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

My colleague here has just said that two of them are connected with the printing press, namely, the pile turner and the plate-making device.

So the plate-making device and the pile turner are required for it to be operational. The cost of the guillotine is €78,000 and the folding machine costs €128,000 which means €200,000 was spent on purchases that were not required in order for the printing machine to be operational. That is a scandal.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No. All of this equipment is part of the normal suite of equipment.

It is part of the shopping spree.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is part of the normal suite of equipment that one would have in a print facility.

What are we supposed to do, fold them in our offices? Come on, Deputy Munster should not be ridiculous.

I am asking if the equipment is specifically required for the printing press to work.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

My understanding is that all of those machines are necessary to do the work that the printing facility does for Members.

The printing facility as opposed to the printing press. We did not have those there before. We did not have the pile turner.

We do have them.

We did not have the guillotines or folding machines.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes, we did.

We did have them. So was there a need for new ones?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

There was. Yes. They were old.

We are on time.

We are now looking at a cost of more than €2 million.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The overall cost, when one adds in the Oireachtas element and the OPW element is €2.02 million. The OPW element, as explained in the report, is general upgrading works that the OPW does. The cost attributable to the head height issue is set out in the second table, which is €314,000.

I have to move on to Deputy Cullinane now.

What was the business case budget?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It was €1.5 million.

There is quite a difference.

I welcome Mr. Finnegan. He said that when one comes before the Committee of Public Accounts as an Accounting Officer that one could be asked anything by anybody. I think that is fair. One can be asked a wide range of questions, even questions that may not be material to the accounts at hand. On the day Mr. Finnegan was in, he was not asked anything by anybody, he was asked a question by me specifically in relation to office equipment and ICT services. The question was specifically regarding what was not an overspend but bringing forward expenditure in the region of €9.7 million. He mentioned on the ICT side the replacement of laptops and he also mentioned the printer, which he said cost €1.3 million. Mr. Finnegan then said he could only answer the question he was asked. The problem is if we are not given the information we cannot ask the questions. I will get to the point in a moment. Mr. Finnegan said there is one line in the report which said there may have been some difficulties. Does he not accept it would have been better at that meeting to say there were issues attached to the cost of €1.3 million and to draw our attention to page 3 of the document which sets them out? Perhaps then we would have been in a better position to ask questions. I was not aware at that meeting that issues arose concerning head height or major works that had to be done to fit the printer but Mr. Finnegan was aware of them. I think the Comptroller and Auditor General was aware of them. When there is a vacuum of information in a room, there is a difficulty. I put it to Mr. Finnegan that it would have been better at that meeting had he just said that as well as the €1.3 million, there are some difficulties he wanted to alert the committee to and that the expenditure will form part of next year's budget. Does he not, first of all, accept that it would have been better at least?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

One goes back to the discussion. Like Deputy Cullinane, I have looked at the transcript as well. The exchange we had was very much around subhead 1(a) and the components of subhead 1(a). That is very much one's focus when one is answering questions. It is just the way it is for an Accounting Officer coming in. There was no intention on my part to withhold anything or anything like that.

I am not trying to catch Mr. Finnegan out and I am not saying that he consciously or deliberately withheld information. I am just saying that for us to do our job, it would be better to tell us if there are major complications with a project. In this case, Mr. Finnegan was furnished with a report in December which we then read coincidentally in The Irish Times a week after he was before the committee. The timing was very coincidental but it happened to be a week after Mr. Finnegan was here that we read about it in The Irish Times. Mr. Finnegan specifically mentioned the cost of the printer. What I am saying is that it would have been better if he had said that in addition to the €1.3 million, there are potentially additional costs and he wanted to alert us to those and then at least that would have been on the public record.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

As I said, when one comes into the Committee of Public Accounts one tries to answer every question that one is asked. That is what I did on that day to the best of my ability. I had basically flagged this in the appropriation account. There was a note on the account regarding prepayments. That note was note 2.5.

When any group of people are looking at accounts — there are a number of accountants here in the room today — the first thing they do is read the notes. That is the reality of it.

I have it here. This is what it said.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I answered everything to the best of my ability on the day.

This is what it is says: "Print Equipment - €1.169m - a delay in delivery and installing the printing equipment was due to a requirement (not originally anticipated) to upgrade the print room to meet health and safety standards which will be completed in July 2019." It does not jump out that there was a major complication. The cost was €1.169 million. Mr. Finnegan had given me a cost of €1.3 million. It does not jump out at me, even with the benefit of hindsight, that that was resulting in a problem. What I am saying to Mr. Finnegan is not to catch him out or say he did anything wrong or purposely withheld information. We actually acknowledged that he is a very experienced and highly regarded civil servant. He is here as an Accounting Officer to answer questions. It would have been better had he just told us. He has now had to follow up with two separate reports to the Committee of Public Accounts. The second, which I will come to an a second, recognises and acknowledges a series of mistakes that were made. It would have been better had Mr. Finnegan told us. Does he at least accept that it would have been better had he alerted us to the potential problems?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I answered every question I could as best I could on the day. That note reflects the level of knowledge we had. The date of the accounts is June 2018. There is a completely different level of knowledge about this project today. That note, in my view, accurately reflected where we were at based on my review of the documents, etc., that I had. That is all one can do as Accounting Officer.

I am sorry but we will have to disagree on our interpretation. While there is a different degree of knowledge now, Mr. Finnegan had a very significant memo at his disposal in December, well in advance of his coming in. It set out that there were difficulties and challenges. Mr. Finnegan has given his view but I will finish with this topic by stating it is my view that he should have given us more information. He has his view. I will let the public decide who they believe is right on that one.

Let me move on to the business case for purchasing. On page 1 of the second report, Mr. Finnegan states the business case for purchasing is still sound. Does he stand over that?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Would the Deputy mind repeating that?

On page 2 of Mr. Finnegan's second report, he states that having analysed the print production statistics and the financial cost of the printing press, he is firmly of the opinion that the business case for purchasing it is still sound.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

All of the evidence that I have reviewed – I have reviewed an extensive amount over the past three weeks – suggests to me that the correct decision was made to purchase a Komori printing press.

Here is the difference. The rationale for purchasing the printer was sound. Nobody here is disputing the rationale or need for the printer. He went into a lengthy discussion he had with some expert – I do not know who this person is. It is irrelevant and not material to this committee. I believe he said it was a good solid printing press. I am sure it is but it just did not fit. That was the problem. Regardless of that, on the second page Mr. Finnegan refers to lessons learned. Could he read for me the second lesson he says was learned?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Does the Deputy want to read it himself?

I can. It states business cases must include an estimate of the cost of ancillary works and items. To me, that is an acknowledgement that the business case did not include an estimate of the cost of ancillary works and items. One cannot say on one page that the business case for purchasing was sound and on the following page acknowledge that one of the lessons learned was that the business case did not include certain elements. Maybe Mr. Finnegan can enlighten me as to why that is the case.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is actually an issue of language. The reference to the business case on the first page essentially means the business proposition for the purchase of the printer. The arguments for purchasing it from a business point of view are still sound. The reference on the second page is to the specific matter of business cases that are part of our governance structure here.

I am sorry but I am going to have to disagree with Mr. Finnegan again on this. The Comptroller and Auditor General educates us and has done so for a long time on the importance of business cases. One element of a business case is the rationale. The other element is that one lines up one's ducks and that everything is, as much as possible, anticipated. That certainly was not done in this situation because Mr. Finnegan went on to say and acknowledged that there were serious mistakes. It would be better in this report if Mr. Finnegan had said the rationale for the purchase was sound but that mistakes were made in relation to the business case.

Mr. Finnegan said there was a series of mistakes. This was glaringly absent in the first report. In the first report, there was no reference at all to mistakes that were made. The second report states:

There is absolutely no denying that a series of mistakes were made during the project. These are outlined and explained in this report. However, I am satisfied, that the mistakes arose from human error. They were honest mistakes and made by staff who were seeking to improve the printing services for Members.

I have no issue whatsoever with the view that the mistakes were honest. If honest mistakes are made and people put their hands up and say that made them, we have to accept that. There is human error but it took us an awful long time to get to an acknowledgement that serious mistakes were made. I would like to know not the individual or even the department he or she worked in but whether the mistakes Mr. Finnegan states were made as a consequence of human error were made by the company selling the printer, the OPW or the people who were developing the business case? When Mr. Finnegan states there were human error and mistakes, he at least has an obligation to tell us where they were made. In what area? Was it in procurement? In what area were the mistakes made? Was there a combination of different areas?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Before I answer that, can I refer briefly to the Deputy's observation that it took a long time?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The story broke in The Irish Times on the weekend of 23 and 24 November. On the Monday morning when I came into work, I sent an email to the clerk of the committee. I told him I was going to do a report and that I would aim to have it for the committee on the following Thursday, which was 28 November. On Monday, 25 November, Tuesday, 26 November, and Wednesday, 27 November, we basically collated all the information we could in that short period. I had a team of people working with me. They worked incredibly hard pulling together the report. The first report was based on the level of knowledge we had at that time. There were certain unanswered questions that I actually could not answer at that particular time. It was not that I did not want to answer them but I actually did not have the answers.

I obviously had more time to produce the second report. I went through as many of the emails as I possibly could. I had the opportunity to sit down and do a full debrief with particular individuals. I had the opportunity to have a telephone conversation with the managing director of Komori's Irish agent. A lot more went into that. The additional time I had reflects the difference between the two reports and why I was able to say a series of mistakes were made.

With regard to the mistakes, from the very beginning the first and fundamental mistake was the absence of architectural input on the evaluation team. That was absolutely critical. If we had had architectural input on the evaluation team, in my view the issue of head height would have been identified right at the very start. That, in turn, would have had an impact on the business case. The second recommendation that I have is that the business cases must include an estimate of the cost of ancillary works and items. We would have had a truer cost for these works, which would have been incorporated in the business case.

The other issue relates to issues that arose during the course of the procurement process. Mistakes were made in terms of not picking up on the drawing that was submitted but, on the flip side of that, it would have been helpful had attention been drawn to that drawing by the Oireachtas parties. There was just no sense of the head height issue and therefore the drawing did not trigger or ring any alarm bells. Other mistakes that were made included the fact that the statement in the RFT response was missed. That was a further mistake.

Unfortunately, in this project, as I said in my report, basically there was a series of mistakes.

As the Deputy generously acknowledged, they were honest and human mistakes. That is what happens occasionally. It is regrettable that it does happen. However, as long as one has humans involved in a project, there is always the possibility of a human error. One just tries one's best to eliminate or reduce that possibility as far as one can.

I gave the Accounting Officer a lot of time to answer those two questions because it was important.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I thank the Deputy.

I welcome the answers I got. We said from the outset that nobody is blaming Mr. Finnegan as Accounting Officer.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I appreciate that.

Mistakes were obviously made. Those mistakes are now being acknowledged. I do have a view about what information should have been given at a previous meeting. As part of the commentary on this issue, there was a point made that somehow the staff in the printing presses were holding up progress with this printer going live because of pay. That is not my view. There are no issues with staff looking for extra money. No pay claims are being made by staff.

Mr. Finnegan mentioned the actual room. In the first report he gave the committee, he said it was due to go into printing room No. 1 but ended up in printing No. 2. He also mentioned earlier the pile turner. Will he confirm how this printer will work? Is it correct that the pile turner is in a different room?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I do not know.

I will actually educate you. It is a problem for us because you talked about health and safety.

This is a massive printer. The paper in the previous printers could actually be manually inputted into the machines. This cannot. There is a forklift needed.

Will the Deputy explain this forklift?

It goes in under the paper and lifts up the paper.

Does a person walk with this?

The person drives it.

Is it on two or four wheels? Does one sit up on it?

One either drives it or walks with it. I am not sure.

As Chairman, I just want clarity.

In any event they would say it is a lift.

There is something for lifting a pallet.

There is a device that lifts the paper. It has to go into the front of the machine. It prints one side and comes out the other end. The person has to bring the lift over to the other side and load up the printer. They have to go out of room No. 1 into room No. 2 over to the pile turner. It then turns the paper back on to the lift again, back in and the process is repeated. To me, that is a bit complicated. It raises genuine health and safety concerns which staff would have. That is why I am making the point.

We need to be fair to the staff in the printing presses. There was some media commentary that there were issues regarding a pay claim for operating this printer. Will Mr. Finnegan dispel that this is not the case today? Is it correct that there is no additional pay claim being made by the staff for operating this printer? Is it correct that there are genuine health and safety concerns that the staff have about operating the machine and the tight space of the room in which the printer is located?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I made inquiries about the forklift truck because when I heard that statement I was alarmed myself. I was told that there is no requirement for forklift trucks. A trolley is required. In actual fact, the trolley that is going to be used in connection with the new printer is slightly smaller than the trolley that was in use with the old printer. That is the information I have been given.

On health and safety issues, a range of issues are being addressed with our health and safety consultant. In addition to that, we are looking at the workflow issues in terms of the print unit. The information I have been given is that the report from the health and safety expert is due on Friday week, 20 December.

On the pay claim, on the basis of information I have been given, I am advised that on 12 November SIPTU wrote stating that following a general meeting with staff, it did not believe the current remuneration package is adequate to compensate members for the planned changes and wishes to enter into further negotiations. That is the most up-to-date position on that.

Will Mr. Finnegan provide a little more information to the question Deputy Cullinane asked about going out of one room and into another for turning purposes? It was not answered and it would be helpful to know.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I am sorry I could not answer. I will get the Deputy an answer.

I am concerned with some of what I have heard today.

One could almost interpret that it is in some way our fault for not asking the right questions. There is an innuendo that one answers questions but leaves it hanging that we did not ask the right questions. It might not be intentional but that feel has come out from what has been said.

I have some questions specifically about the accounts the committee discussed on 11 July.

Will Mr. Finnegan check the chart in section 9 of his report today?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I have it.

What is the total cost of the print facility equipment?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The total cost, VAT inclusive, is €1.369 million.

Now let us go to the accounts presented to the committee. On page 17 of the appropriation account from the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, included in prepayments for 2018 are capital equipment costs amounting to €1.793 million. It stated, “while purchased in 2018, they were not fully commissioned until 2019 as detailed below”. This involved print equipment, laptops and cameras. These were purchased in 2008. Does Mr. Finnegan accept his own words that they were purchased in 2018?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They were purchased and not commissioned.

Yes, they were purchased. That is why they are included. Does Mr. Finnegan accept that what was included in the prepayment was printing equipment that was purchased in 2018?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Purchased. This basically is delayed delivery.

We will come to that. I just want to clear the figures.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Can I take the Chairman to the note above that? It stated, “included in prepayments in 2018 are capital equipment costs amounting to €1.793 million which, while purchased in 2018, will not be fully commissioned until 2019”.

Correct. There are three elements making up that figure, the biggest one which is in the next paragraph, the print equipment, €1.169 million.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Correct.

Is a reasonable person reading that entitled to believe that the print equipment purchased was €1.169 million which was purchased in 2018?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It was purchased but not fully commissioned.

We are not talking about the installation. I am only talking about the price, the figure in the accounts.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No, to be honest, Chairman. I think I know what you are getting at.

I will tell you what I am getting at. The chart you gave us a minute ago gave us a cost of €1.369 million.

I did not like the conversation I was hearing over the past few minutes. Mr. Finnegan is referring back to the prepayments note. The note states – which you gave to us but we did not query in detail – was that the print equipment had been purchased in 2018 at a cost of €1.169 million. In this chart, he is telling us the figure was €1.369 million, out by €200,000. It had been purchased. Accordingly, he knew the price. Why did he put in a figure of €1.169 million when the cost of the equipment purchased was €1.369 million? Will he explain the two figures to me?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is a valid question.

I want a valid answer because I have had innuendoes about our questioning of this figure. There is a figure of €1.169 million in the account that Mr. Finnegan referred to a number of times.

That is not the figure he has given us today for what was actually purchased. It is out by €200,000. That is the first point I am making. I thought we would conclude this matter today but I cannot allow that until we get an explanation for the difference of €200,000. My second point is that Mr. Finnegan said they did not pursue that issue in greater detail. That was July. Print equipment was listed at €1.169 million: "A delay in delivery and installing the printing equipment was due to a requirement (not originally anticipated) to upgrade the print room to meet health and safety standards which will be completed in July 2019." That is the month we were here. There is a reference there to €1.169 million. The figure Mr. Finnegan has given us today for completing all the works done, including the OPW work, is €2.02 million. That is an increase of 73%. I know he did not have the full figures for the €2 million in July but even if we had questioned that, we would only have been halfway to the figure.

The issue here is not that we did not pursue the accounts and the accounts Mr. Finnegan produced refer to €1.169 million. The public now knows that the final cost, which was not known to Mr. Finnegan fully on the day, is €2.02 million. The figures being quoted here today, 12 December, have risen by 73% versus those that were quoted here on 11 July. They have gone up from €1.169 million to €2.02 million. That is the issue. There is no indication in that text that structural work is required. The phrase "upgrade of print room" indicates that a new printer is coming in. It looked a reasonable figure. There was no suggestion it required structural works to the extent that it did. The point is that figure is nowhere near the complete figure because Mr. Finnegan did not have it. It is not fair to say we did not pursue it. The figure is 73% higher today than was reported by Mr. Finnegan in July. That is where the public have the concern. There was a budget at the beginning and the Houses of the Oireachtas Service was within the budget at that point in time, according to this. However, as the year progressed what was indicated to be €1.169 million turned out to be €2.02 million when all the other work was done. That 73% increase is why the public is concerned. Does Mr. Finnegan get that?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I do. May I respond to your points?

Yes. Mr. Finnegan says it is our job to examine the accounts and that is what I am doing now.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I accept that.

We can talk about printing and everything else but we are talking about the accounts and that is why Mr. Finnegan is here.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Just in terms of the difference between the figure that is in my report and the figure that was in the appropriation account, that is accounted for by two of the items which were not regarded as pre-payments. They come to a total of €123,000 and €78,000, respectively. That is the difference of €202,000 between those two figures. That explains it. I would respectfully point out that both the figure in my report and the figure in the note to the account are both correct.

Given that Mr. Finnegan referred to pre-payments on the printing equipment and gives us the print facility equipment, it would have been helpful to include that in the note today, rather than us having to extract it. A reasonable person reading those figures will see €200,000 of a difference. If we did not extract that, we would be none the wiser and we might be accused of not asking the right question. It would have been helpful had that been explained. Regardless of that, the figure has gone from €1.69 million last July to €2.02 million today.

If I can come in for ten seconds, what it says is: "Print Equipment - €1.169m - a delay in delivery and installing the printing equipment was due to a requirement [...] to upgrade the print room to meet health and safety standards." At no point does it say there that this will result in additional costs. That is the issue. If we had seen that, we would have asked. It appears as if there is no difficulty here. There is a delay in installing it but it does not say there is going to be additional costs.

I am moving on to Deputy Connolly. Mr. Finnegan wants to come back in as well. Because there were a couple of references to the accounts presented and the questions being asked and not being asked, I am stopping the meeting at this point for this intervention, to compare what was in front of us then with what is in front of us now. There is a 73% increase. That is all I am saying. Mr. Finnegan need not go through it. The schedules explain the figure we are at today and we know where we were then.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Okay. Just to explain as a point of information, the figure the Chair is quoting is €2.02 million. The figure that will ultimately be recorded in our accounts in respect of the upgrading work is €314,000. I am advised that figure will be reimbursed to the OPW in 2020. It will, therefore, feature in the 2020 appropriation account. The other figure that relates to the legacy works carried out by the OPW is on page 10. That is €221,000 and is paid from the Vote of the Office of Public Works, not the Vote of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service.

The taxpayer is still paying for it.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I accept that, but just in terms of accountancy-----

Just to clarify the point, why was the €200,000 not in the pre-payments note?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Because the equipment was basically purchased and it was in use. That is my understanding.

In other words, Mr. Finnegan is telling us that the folding machine and the guillotine worked with the old machine and they will now work with the new machine.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I think that is the case, yes. I will check that for the Chairman. The note basically records items that were purchased but not fully commissioned.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Not available for use is the expectation for recognition of a capital asset.

I understand that. Mr. Finnegan is saying the folding machine and guillotine were available for use.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I think so, yes.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Whether they were used is not the point from an accounting perspective. It is that they were available for use. If they are not used and there is a waste of resource because it is under-utilised-----

They would have depreciated, then, in that year if they were in the fixed assets.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

They would have been subject to depreciation.

Somebody might give us a note on that point as well. It is a small point but people are watching us carefully. I apologise to Deputy Connolly for cutting in.

Mr. Finnegan is very welcome. Táim buíoch dó as ucht na dtuarascálacha. Tá siad cuimsitheach agus déanann an tUasal Finnegan a dhícheall na ceisteanna a fhreagairt. I welcome the two reports. He has greatly attempted to answer the questions and has certainly set out the issues in a short time. Whether we are happy with the responses is a slightly different issue. Someone in Galway asked me the total cost of the printer. Can Mr. Finnegan just give that to me?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

For the printing press?

Yes, the printing press with all the additions - €1,798,818 inclusive of VAT. Is that correct? It is on page 9 of the report.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Correct. When everything is added in, to pick up on a point that I noted the Deputy made when she was considering my first report, we had inadvertently left out the storage charge of €12,000. The other thing which we have included, to give an accurate picture, is the cost of outsourcing since this problem arose. We have included a figure of €100,000. A true cost of the equipment, the works, storage and outsourcing costs is approximately €1.8 million inclusive of VAT.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

Is the outsourcing continuing?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

My understanding is that where required, it is continuing. The way the outsourcing works is that it is not something that we like to do. We like to do as much work as we can in-house but where we do not have the capacity to meet the demand, we have to outsource and we have a contract in place for that.

That is drawn down as it is needed.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

There are two separate outsourcing costs. One is outsourcing because of the debacle over the printing machine, or rather the mistakes over it.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Mistakes, yes.

The second outsourcing is on a needs basis, in addition to the printer.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Correct, yes.

There were two printers there, is that right?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes. There were two Heidelberg printers. In 2004, to meet the printing needs, we purchased four Heidelberg printers. There were two two-colour printers and four four-colour printers. We replaced the two four-colour printers with one printer. We have literally gone from a four-printer operation to a one-printer printing press operation.

At the moment, that is not operational so Mr. Finnegan is still reliant on the other four.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

We are reliant on one of the Heidelbergs because in July 2018, the second Heidelberg was traded in. The expectation at that stage was that it would be possible to install the new Komori printing, so space was made-----

How many machines are operational at the moment, and it is not the new one?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

One printing press is operating at the moment.

That is the Heidelberg.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That is the Heidelberg, yes.

Mr. Finnegan made a point in his report that the Heidelberg was more expensive at the time. Is that one Heidelberg or four Heidelbergs?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No. It was the suite of Heidelbergs that we needed. I used the plural in the report, printing presses, because we needed all of those presses to work together to deliver on the printing for us.

Were all of those bought in the same year?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They were, yes.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

In 2004.

Mr. Finnegan is telling me that the overall cost of that, with all the accessories necessary to run it, was more expensive than the Komori, with all its accessories.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It was, yes.

What was the overall price in 2004?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The cost of the Heidelbergs that were purchased in 2004 was €1.24 million. The cost of the construction works that were done at that time were approximately €1.14 million.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Is that VAT inclusive?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes. Both are VAT inclusive. That is €2.38 million, so the cost was roughly €2.4 million in 2004.

For four machines.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

For the four printing presses and the works that were required to accommodate those, yes.

Mr. Finnegan made the point that they needed maintenance and repairs, and he gave a figure for those when the spoke earlier of €45,000 in maintenance per year-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That was roughly the maintenance contract, yes.

-----and €20,000 in spare parts.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

What was the lifespan of those machines?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The Heidelbergs were bought in 2004, so when we did the business case they were 12 or 13 years old. At that stage, it was felt by the print people that they were coming towards the end of their life. They were fully-----

I understand that, but what was the lifespan when they were bought? Does anybody know that?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I would have to check that for the Deputy.

What is the lifespan of the Komori?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The expectation is that it is somewhere between 12 and 15 years.

Will there be ongoing maintenance and repair costs?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

There are, yes.

Are they built into this cost?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The maintenance costs are separate. There is no maintenance charge in the first two years. I think in year 3 it is €16,000, €21,000 in year 4 and €25,000 in year 5. Those figures are VAT exclusive.

We would need a breakdown of those maintenance costs.

Mr. Finnegan might send that on.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I will provide that, yes.

Mr. Finnegan spoke about lessons learned, which are outlined in the report, and the mistakes. What were the mistakes? I have read his report, and I have thanked him for it. I see the eight key lessons, which I welcome. What were the mistakes? Mr. Finnegan is saying that there is no denying that mistakes were made, and that they were honest mistakes. I accept all of that because mistakes are made, but it is where we go with those mistakes and how we deal with them. What mistakes were made?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The biggest mistake was not having architectural expertise on the project.

Mr. Finnegan would not have architectural experience at that point because he did not anticipate any problem with the printer.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Looking back on it, and this is all with the benefit of hindsight, one would no longer make that assumption. If one is buying an asset, one at least needs to check if there is any architectural-----

Regardless of the asset.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I think one does. There was absolutely no sense with this machine that there was any need for architectural services. From speaking to the people, in their mind-----

That is okay. I heard that earlier. What other mistakes were made?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The second mistake was in terms of the format we use in our business cases. Again, the ancillary element needs to be built into business cases.

I accept Mr. Finnegan's clarification. The business concept justifying the printer was sound but the actual business case was not sound in terms of the elements that were included in the business case.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Correct, and the formal document that we use, the template of format for that document.

Did any other mistakes jump out at Mr. Finnegan, so to speak?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The other one is in terms of how we report on projects. Looking back on it, the management board-----

Mr. Finnegan is calling them the management board. Is that the management committee?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The management committee, yes. The management board approved the purchase of the printing press in November 2017 and did not consider any progress reports on it.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

After that, yes.

That is a fundamental mistake.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That is a fundamental issue. There needs to be much better oversight.

Were there any other mistakes?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The second point, to go back to the architectural piece-----

I am on four mistakes. Mr. Finnegan is going back to the first one.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No. In terms of the mistakes-lessons learned, the flip side-----

I see the lessons learned. I am more interested in the mistakes.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

In terms of the mistakes that were made, looking at it, I would not be happy that the project management of the project adhered to the best standards.

Is there a new project management officer?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

We have done an extensive amount of project management training since this project took place. I am going to commission a full end-to-end review of project management methodologies in the organisation.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Of all projects, yes. The way we do our projects is important.

Were any other mistakes made?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The other issue is around risk, and this goes back to 2017. Things have developed since then but with a project like this which, in a sense, goes off the rails and incurs significant extra costs, we should be getting something through our risk management process.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That did not happen at the time. That is something we have to make sure never happens again.

Did Mr. Finnegan identify where that breakdown happened?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I believe it was the manner in which it was communicated. We had a risk register at the time but it was never put on the risk register. If I may briefly explain, we have done a lot since then. We appointed a chief risk officer last year. Ms Máirín Devlin fulfils that role. We have a new draft risk management strategy, a risk management framework, that has been to our audit committee. That will be formally adopted in the first part of next year.

I accept Mr. Finnegan has made changes-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

-----but he might allow me to stay with this for a minute because I lose my train of thought. I appreciate that Mr. Finnegan has made changes. In his first report, he clearly identified, and we all marked it, that he had not enough information. I wrote down the word "key" in terms of the note from Komori not being picked up.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Correct.

Mr. Finnegan then went back and did the report before us now.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

In this report, Mr. Finnegan states that it was not picked up by the evaluation team. When I look at the procurement evaluation team I see there is an external procurement consultant on board, a project manager and a print facility on board. I am not sure why head of communications is on it but I might be misinterpreting-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is because the head of communications at the time was the project sponsor.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The head of communications had responsibility for the print unit.

In terms of expertise, I refer to the external procurement consultant and the print manager. The external procurement consultant in particular came in with expertise. What were the members of the team paid for that role? How did they not pick up on this?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I simply do not know. I have looked at the request for tender documents. The note underneath the table is clear to me but it just was not picked up by the team. I can only surmise that it may have been the fact that there was one respondent. This was the only tender on the table. I am just surmising that.

There would be no need for many of the changes if this team had picked up that.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I agree.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Absolutely, yes.

However, they did not.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No.

Regarding Komori, how many site visits did they make?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They made a number of site visits, three or four. I would have to get the Deputy-----

That is okay, but they made more than one.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They did, yes.

They made one before the process.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

As I said in my opening statement, there were site visits during the actual-----

I saw that but Komori was not mentioned in particular. Mr. Finnegan might clarify when they came.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

Did anyone tell Komori that the responsibility was theirs, that they were giving us a very expensive asset and it was up to them to check it? As I understand, many other companies - Xerox and others - come and check them. Did anyone say that?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I did. I spoke to the managing director of their Irish agent. On Friday, I had a 30-minute conversation with him. I explained to him that I wanted to speak to him, that I was likely to be giving evidence before the Committee of Public Accounts. I put all of this to him. I said to him that when one stands back and looks at this evidence, the company ticked a box and put a note underneath it. There were site visits, there were drawings submitted of it, and there were measurements taken.

They made a number of visits. They were there.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They did.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

In fact, Mr. Finnegan's note here states, "On 21 May ... the issue of head-height was discussed between the Oireachtas and Komori and those present [including Komori] were satisfied that sufficient height was available". This is of concern. They were satisfied at that point, on 21 May. Mr. Finnegan's note continues, "particularly since 90% of the operational tasks could be undertaken from the lower platform". First, Komori are saying it is okay. Everyone is agreeing that they are buying a very expensive machine but they will not worry about 10% of the operation.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I do not disagree with anything that the Deputy said. I found it extraordinary.

The Chairman is stopping me, I am afraid. My last point is in relation to this expensive machine. Was the training of the staff included in the business case and costed?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

Last, the printer is of a high specification and it can do wonderful things, not just in black and white. Are there other possibilities for its use?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Definitely. As I said in my opening remarks, it is a very versatile machine. It is a well-built machine and there are other possibilities. What I would like to do is get the machine installed, get it operating, get six months to bed it down and then look at the other possibilities. In the public sector, we do an awful lot of printing and that machine is capable of doing certainly some of that printing. We can optimise the value of that machine.

I do not want any more questions, but on the external consultant Mr. Finnegan might just take a note.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I will.

I would like to know.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Absolutely.

I thank Deputy Connolly. Deputy Cassells.

I welcome Mr. Finnegan. I want to pick up on that point. The area I want to touch on is the role of Komori in all this. We have had an extensive discussion of nearly two hours and we have not really mentioned the role of Komori. Given the detail that has been provided by Mr. Finnegan on that site visit on 21 May 2018 by its representatives, including the managing director, the project director and the managing director of its Irish agent, to the print facility at Kildare House and given that height was specifically discussed and that from the evidence available to Mr. Finnegan everyone expressed satisfaction with the head height, has there been any admission of liability on behalf of Komori in respect of this in terms of the conversations that there have been? As a follow-up question, from the legal point of view for the Houses of the Oireachtas, has that avenue been explored given that three of the senior staff within that company expressed satisfaction that everything was okay with the dimensions of the room in their physical site visit, leaving aside the drawings?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Okay. Yes. I suppose the - I am sorry. I am after losing my train of thought. Would the Deputy mind repeating his question?

There are two parts to it. One is an admission of liability by Komori in respect of this, given that its representatives conducted a site visit and expressed at least satisfaction or did not even indicate that there were any problems from that. Two, has that been followed up? Given that Mr. Finnegan has had discussions with the managing director, MD, of the Irish agent, has Mr. Finnegan explored whether there are legal avenues open to the Oireachtas in that context given that it is such a capital asset and that the company had staff on the ground examining the area in which it would be placed?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

In the conversation that I had with the managing director, I said to him that when one looks at the paperwork for this, this does not look good. I asked him to look at the facts of it. His position is, as he stated back to me in response, that from his point of view, his company flagged the fact that there was limited head height in the tender response, that the company sent a drawing to us also and that, ultimately, as a company, it would take the view of the available height, which it said was 2.85 m, that it would have installed printing presses in printing works at and below that height. He said to me that, as a company, Komori would take the view - he was careful to stipulate that he is only the agent and that I would need to speak to the managing director of Komori itself - and the general approach it would take would be that if the customer was happy, Komori would supply the machine and that the legal obligation would be on the customer. I went back and I checked that with our legal people. Our legal people advised me that given the warnings, given the fact that there was limited head height, and given the fact that the drawings were sent in etc., we would not be in a position to argue that Komori breached its contract. That, unfortunately, is the reality.

I am exploring other avenues in terms of speaking to our legal advisers to see if there is a possibility that we would set out in writing what happened, the concerns, how we feel the procurement and the provision of the machine were dealt with, and whether they would be prepared on an ex gratia basis to make some contribution or gesture to the Houses of the Oireachtas in respect of this machine. That is something that I am pursuing.

Is that a definitive line for us now that we are going to do that?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I am doing that, yes.

In terms of that site visit, I refer to the difference in the use of language between limited head height as opposed to a determination that it would be inoperable if the dimensions of the room had stayed the same. Has it been determined that it would have been inoperable had the dimensions of the room stayed the same?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

On health and safety grounds, that machine could not have been operated had those works not been done. We would be in an even worse position because we would have a machine that was fully installed, the machine would have to have been removed from the print unit, and we would have had to do those works.

On the areas that Mr. Finnegan explored in respect of looking at the 2004 works that were conducted for the previous printing machine as opposed to now, he alluded to the fact that the Oireachtas project team had no sense of the need for the works given that there was no one with architectural experience on the team. Had they examined that previous piece of work in 2004 given that substantial works had to be done as well to complement the installation of machines at that point? If they did so, what was costed in terms of work? Was there anything costed for this particular work prior to the issues emanating? Beyond the removal of door frames, was there any substantial work costed for the original piece?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

On the 2004 works, essentially, what happened in 2004 was we moved from a situation where we had four printing operations in the Houses of the Oireachtas - each party had its own printing operation - and there was a decision taken at the time that there should be a centralised printing operation. The decision, ultimately, was of 2007. The machines were moved from their old locations around Leinster House - they were in different locations - and we did the works in Kildare House that are there today. The print unit that we have at the moment is, I suppose, specifically geared towards printing and that is where the costs arose.

Was that 2004 report referenced when they were preparing for this?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No, it was not. I asked colleagues from the OPW if they could get the papers because I did not have copies of the papers within the Oireachtas. That is where I got the information.

What was the anticipated ancillary works starting off? When the original contracts were signed, was there anything anticipated beyond the installation?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The thinking at the time was that there would be minor works done. There was certainly removal of door frames. There were other bits of works. I think there was reference to a wall needing to be knocked.

Presumably, there were mechanical and electrical works that would have been required but that was what was anticipated as to what the requirements would be.

In terms of the series of mistakes that obviously caused matters to spiral, the fact that no one involved had architectural expertise has been identified by Mr. Finnegan as key. With regard to the 30 May phone call or email that he referenced in terms of the facilities unit contacting the OPW to say that the contract had been agreed, was that the first contact between the Houses of the Oireachtas and the OPW?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is the first contact I can find. I am working on the basis that it was, yes.

In terms of the sequencing thereafter and in the context of the human errors, I suppose the root cause of the problem stems from that. Which mistakes would Mr. Finnegan identify as being the most serious after that?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I suppose the general failure to pick up on head height. Maybe I am being a bit harsh.

On the note from Komori to the Houses of the Oireachtas that was missed, did the entire evaluation team miss that or was it sent to an individual?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Is the Deputy referring to the missed note in the RFT?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The entire team missed it. That is the puzzling thing about it. I cannot explain it but that is what happened. I have asked two of the people that were present on the day and they did not realise it was there until this issue arose. They pulled out the RFT, looked at it saw that note. It was a major oversight.

In terms of the admission of the significance of that in retrospect, have they admitted that would have been a serious flagging in terms of helping this process? Did they acknowledged it then? Again, I ask this from the point of view of whether they had the expertise. If they had seen that and referenced it, and had it not been missed, would the people involved have had the expertise to realise the importance of what was being flagged?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No, that is the pity about it. There was absolutely no sense whatsoever that height was an issue. Even if they had seen that note - this is just my own opinion but it is based on the general conversations I have had over the past number of weeks - I think they still would have gone ahead with it. It was just a major blind spot and that is what comes across time and time again, no matter where I look and who I speak to on this project. I am really sorry about the way this project worked out but there was just a big mistake made. It was human error. That is all I can say.

Good afternoon to Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Finnegan. I thank them and the other witnesses for coming in. Earlier, Mr. Finnegan said that the evaluation team "missed the statement on the bottom of the page, which said that the head height was limited." He later agreed that a reasonable person reading accounts should read the notes first.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

He has just stated that the entire team missed it.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

It is in the context of the conversation the Chairman had with him that I raise those issues.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I accept that.

These are his own words to this committee, which I appreciate the Chairman taking the time to highlight. I did not appreciate it either. In fairness to Mr. Finnegan, he said at the start that it is a privilege for him to come before this committee.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is, yes.

It is a privilege for me to sit on this side of the table, so we all have privilege in our positions here. It is important that we justify that privilege in the context of the questions and the answers and how they are asked and answered. That is something I would like to say at the start and it is not a question.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Can I-----

It is not a question. Does Mr. Finnegan believe that, in the context of something so important to the Houses of the Oireachtas and to Members, getting one tender back was sufficient? I have not read in any of Mr. Finnegan's statements or in his two reports that he went directly to printing firms and asked whether they wanted to look at this tender, when he only got one tender back. He stated under questioning that he went to European companies. As Komori is a Japanese firm, I presume it has an office somewhere here. My point is that for something so significant, did Mr. Finnegan not think to go, or did he not go, directly to firms and ask whether they had machines which would be suitable in the context of the tender?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The way the tendering system worked was that there were market soundings done and people were invited in.

What does that mean?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Market soundings is an exercise in procurement where potential suppliers come in, discuss what they have to offer and get a sense of what is required. In the case of the printing unit, they would have a sense of what the printing unit looks like. This is done with a view to assisting in the procurement process and the specification of what is required.

On foot of those soundings, the Houses still only got one tender back.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Ultimately, we did, yes.

Is Mr. Finnegan aware of how many other firms gave consideration to this tender? Were they in touch during those soundings?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

There were 12 companies.

How many of those, in his opinion or to his knowledge, were almost ready to make their products available or were close to doing so but ultimately did not? Did any inform him as to why they did not make them available?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

One of the big issues was the timeline and the ability to supply the printer within the time specification that was required. That was definitely a big issue.

Why was the timeline so significant?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

There are a number of things. First, we went out to tender in March and we had a requirement to install the printer over the summer because, obviously, the summer is a quiet time in the printing facility.

I get where Mr. Finnegan is going. Was there something wrong with the other machines? Were they not capable of running for another 12 months, notwithstanding Mr. Finnegan's point about cost?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Is the Deputy referring to the Heidelbergs?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They probably could have been run for another 12 months. I do not see any reason or nobody has said to me why they could not.

Hindsight is wonderful and I accept that. Another member asked if this process was rushed. I feel that it was and that it was rushed unnecessarily. I appreciate that there were escalating costs but, ultimately, I feel the process was rushed and it was an unnecessary rush. Notwithstanding his two reports and the apology contained within them - and the lessons learned, which are very important - the installation was not considered in the context of cost, to paraphrase Mr. Finnegan. For example, on the costs relating to the air condition unit, the machine was supposed to be installed in one room but it ended up in another. I presume that was due to its size. What I would like to know is whether the air conditioning was not already present. Was this an upgrade? Was it necessary because of the machine or was it due to happen in any event? I direct that question to Mr. Cahill.

Mr. John Cahill

The original ask to us was to remove a partition between rooms 3 and 4 in order to make one larger room and fit it in there. Komori was responsible for the installation and gave us a drawing of how that would fit and what needed to be taken down to do that. In the context of the area we are talking about, when we talk about structure, it is not the structure of the building, it is all the structure which went in in 2004, which holds all the plant above it and allows access to the air conditioning, which my colleague, Jim O'Sullivan, can talk about. It is about the amount of air conditioning because these machines produce heat and there is a need for fresh air and all the rest of it.

I am familiar with that.

Mr. John Cahill

What we are talking about is that, when dealing with a room, it is all there. It is only when the ceiling is lifted that all of the plant that is above that needs to be connected, and that is a follow-on cost. Once it was lifted, then we could see-----

It was in the process of providing additional space.

Mr. John Cahill

Exactly.

In the process of providing additional space, further costs were incurred because everything had to be removed to provide extra headroom. With regard to the pile turner, rooms 3 and 4 were amalgamated to become one room. Is that correct?

Mr. John Cahill

Yes.

Are we talking about a free-flowing room or about a doorway or passageway from one room to the other, or is it just open?

Mr. John Cahill

The partition was taken down.

So it is one room.

Mr. John Cahill

As Mr. Finnegan said, it was assumed that this machine was just going in in September.

The partition was taken down to allow for that.

The process of turning the printed page or flipping it putting back into the machine involves using a trolley, not a forklift. I am familiar with the two types of trolleys. Is a mechanised or non-mechanised trolley used?

Mr. John Cahill

I cannot answer that. I do not know. I would have to get that information for the Deputy.

Either way, a relatively small trolley lifts paper, turns it around and places it in the machine.

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

There is a half a tonne of paper involved here. The load is half a tonne.

I am very familiar with this, believe it or not, from one of my previous jobs. To address the health and safety aspect, which will be part of the assessment that will be made available to Mr. Finnegan on 20 December, I would like to understand this particular process. Unless the machine is dramatically faster than the older machine, that process will surely slow everything down because there is a cost associated with the time it takes to walk around the room.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The information given to me is that this machine is dramatically faster.

Once it beds in after the six-month period to which Mr. Finnegan referred, it will be interesting to get feedback on that because-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I would be very happy to-----

-----that process takes time and costs money.

I am puzzled as to why the associated outsourcing costs of printing feature in Mr. Finnegan's report. I am puzzled as to why these have been bandied around as a total figure. The Heidelberg presses are still working. Is that correct? Are they still in operation?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

There is one Heidelberg machine, whereas previously there were two Heidelbergs.

Is that because one of them had to be taken out of room three or room four?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes, in preparation for the new printer.

The cost of maintaining the Members' print jobs within a reasonable turnover time - which is not the case at the moment but we will not dwell on that - meant that jobs had to be outsourced to a third-party printer.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That is correct, yes.

That is fine. I now have clarity that it is a direct cost.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The emphasis all the time is on maintaining the quality of the service and the turnaround time. The service level agreements stipulate certain turnaround times. They would be adhered to pretty rigidly by the print unit.

As Mr. Finnegan is their boss, I would like to say that the printing staff do a fantastic job. They really do. I can never fault them. They produce a quality product. Deputy Cullinane has said that also and I repeat that point. It will be a very interesting exercise for us to review the whole process once this printer is up and running.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

I understand the industry a little in the sense that there are certain associated costs that escalate with an older printer. The current printer is 14 or 15 years old and was probably designed four or five years prior to purchase. It is, therefore, 20 year old technology and quite old. I suspect there will be long-term cost savings. I would like the committee to receive a projection cost for the printer versus the operating cost of an inferior printer. That will be difficult to do because only one quote was received. However, there are other machines out there.

I understand where Mr. Finnegan is coming from in relation to his previous appearance before this committee. I understand that he has an account of what happened and members have been provided that account. The Comptroller and Auditor General does his thing with his office and, ultimately, members of the committee ask questions. I will highlight the point made by the Chairman, which is a worthy one, that there are only two accountants on this committee, both of whom happen to be chartered accountants. This makes life interesting for Secretaries General and other Departments. It is important that when we ask a question the witness answers the question to the best of his ability and in his words, and also that he could sometimes provide us with a bit more information. I think that in July, when Mr. Finnegan appeared before the committee, he knew some of what he knows now and, notwithstanding the fact that the note was missed, there were additional costs that were not included in the account to the reader. I know Mr. Finnegan has said these were provided further down in the notes and the Comptroller and Auditor General has confirmed that. Pulling everything together and providing the committee with as much information as possible is absolutely critical when a witness comes before us. I thank Mr. Finnegan.

After the other members have spoken, it would be interesting to hear the Comptroller and Auditor General's view. I ask Mr. McCarthy to forgive me as I was not present during the previous hearing and did not hear his commentary. I would be interested to know, on foot of today's meeting, what his views are.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

The information we were aware of was that there was a delay in bringing the asset into use. We were aware of that. It was a charge in the 2018 account. We were aware that there was a problem. Our understanding of it was that it was a health and safety consideration in relation to the capacity of the floor to carry the machine. We were not at all aware of an issue with head height. When there was any reference to structural works we presumed it was strengthening a floor. We would have received the financial statements at the end of March. I reviewed them in May and that was the first I heard that there was an issue around a recognition of a capital asset. The team had already been talking to the Houses of the Oireachtas about whether or not it was appropriate to recognise capital assets. We felt it was not and we said that assets that are not even on the premises cannot be recognised as assets on the balance sheet. We proposed a prepayments note to deal with a number of classes of assets. We were aware that there might be additional costs associated with the installation of the machine as a result of the floor strengthening, as we understood it, but it was inevitably going to be a 2019 expense. We were not thinking of it being a 2020 expense. Therefore, my feeling was that we will look back at this when we come to do the 2019 account and if at that stage there was something that was worth reporting, we would consider making a reference in the audit certificate. In fact, our first preference and expectation in a situation like this where it is a relatively small-scale expenditure but with a weakness in controls and so on would be that sufficient detail would be given in a note to the accounts to explain what had happened. Obviously, however, it was all overtaken by events. Without prejudice to whether I will report anything or encourage any further reporting in relation to the matter for 2019, it has obviously been very well ventilated here, which may mean that I do not need to draw further attention to it in the 2019 accounts or the 2020 accounts when they come to be presented.

I thank Mr. McCarthy.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

As I said earlier, I probably know 100 times more about this than I did at the start. My knowledge of what was going on was limited but one of the things that struck me when reading through the documents was the way this evolved over time. I would defer to my colleagues from the OPW but one of the initial things that took up so much time was the whole load-bearing capacity of the floor. That was a very big issue in February, March and April of this year. When one looks at the history of the project, from the time the OPW said there was actually more to this than we had thought to the time the works commenced, that was over the course of a year. A lot of works took place over that year. From looking at the documents, we can see that the floor was a big issue. The architect brought in Ove Arup, the structural engineers, to look at the floor. Now that the project is over, there appear to be clear dimensions to the project. During the course of the year, however, it was actually quite unclear at stages as to what was going on. That is just the way it was. That is just how the project unfolded, unfortunately.

Mr. Cahill from the OPW might be able to answer my next question given that he referred to the load-bearing strength of the floor.

What weight is this machine? The OPW must have had an idea, because that is what its calculations are based on.

Mr. John Cahill

We got that information. That was part of the process, though we were not involved in the procurement. Initially we were looking at the weight that would be coming down a ramp into what was formerly a car park. We then got drawings from Komori that showed the weight to be 16,800 kg.

That is 16.8 tonnes, or nearly 17 tonnes.

Mr. John Cahill

Approximately 860 kg was going down through each levelling foot that this was sitting on onto the floor. The car park originally had a slope, but work was carried out in 2004 to level it, and the question was whether that was sufficient to take the load. That was the initial query our engineers had. They were looking at the loads coming in, the size of the boxes, whether they could come down the ramp and how to manage them and get them in. The next issue was whether there would be enough capacity on the floor when the machine was operating. It turned out we did and the load could be spread out, but we had to do that exercise to inform the amount of work that was needed.

I asked about the weight of the machine, which is approximately 17 tonnes.

Mr. John Cahill

It is approximately 17,000 kg.

Is that not 17 metric tonnes?

Mr. John Cahill

It is 17 metric tonnes.

I refer to the Comptroller and Auditor General's previous comments. As a summary of what he said, would it be fair to say that Mr. Finnegan made no deliberate attempt to keep information from this committee in July of this year?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

I have no sense that there was any intention in that respect.

Is it also fair to say that all the information contained both reports was within the accounts, just not presented in the format some members would have liked?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

No. There was no indication that there would be building works even in the order of €200,000. That is not included in the financial statements.

That was not included, but the component parts and the price of the machine itself were.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Yes. The fact that a significant investment was being made in printing equipment-----

Yes. We bought a big object that was very heavy.

I hope Mr. Finnegan can answer my next question. The printer comes with a two-year free service period from, I assume, the time it is commissioned. Does that period of free maintenance kick in when it is turned on and starts printing, or is it being used while the machine has been in storage?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I think that is the case, but I will confirm that for the Deputy.

It is very important.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is.

It is important for this committee to find out when that period kicks in.

It is clear based on the information provided both today and previously that a new machine was needed. While the Heidelberg printing press could have gone on for another while, it is clear that the Houses would have needed a new machine at some point in the near future to fulfil our needs. I bring this up in respect of health matters all the time, but was leasing ever considered? I know from my own operations and the large Mitsubishi printing units I use for printing photos quickly and so on, that normal business practice is not to pay the costs up front, but to sign a lease agreement with maintenance included. That way, if the machine blows up, the company will provide another one. Was that option ever considered as part of the business case, or was it a clear-cut decision to buy a new machine?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I think it was the latter. I do not think the leasing option was ever considered. That is another lesson. There are so many lessons from all of this for everyone involved. The other options apart from purchasing should be explored in business cases, and the calculations should be done to see what the bottom line would look like. At the end of the day, one is looking is to get the very best value one can for the taxpayer.

It is normal practice to lease items these days.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is, in commercial bodies.

If this were a private company's books, it would not want this large figure coming out. Perhaps it is simpler when dealing with other people's money, those other people being the taxpayers. We have to be conscious of that in our decision-making in the future.

Mr. Finnegan mentioned that Komori ticked two boxes when it came to the height. Is there a legal basis for getting money back, given that Komori ticked those boxes? If height was not the company's issue, why did it send someone to the site? What is the point of a site visit? Is it about making friends, or looking at the dimensions of the room? I am not having a go at Mr. Finnegan. I am just wondering why anyone came out if he or she was not going to measure anything.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I get the sense that someone visited the site to have a look at the environment in which the printer would be installed. Based on everything I have heard over the past number of weeks, printers such as this have been installed in private sector organisations at and below that height-----

Mr. Finnegan mentioned that.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

-----but that is not good enough for the public sector. We have to comply with health and safety-----

I want to come back to that. Mr. Finnegan said that when this issue of liability was brought up, Komori said it had installed machines in rooms of 2.85 m or below.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That is correct.

Can Mr. Finnegan elaborate on that because it is probably important? Komori said it could fit it into another room that was 2.85 m in height. I assume we are all operating off the same measuring tape. What is Mr. Finnegan's understanding of the distinct difference in the requirements between me buying such a machine for a private business and public sector workers doing the same?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

My understanding is that health and safety is a big issue for public sector employees.

It is an issue for everybody.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

From what I have heard, the organisations that installed machines at or below 2.85 m did not have the same concerns for health and safety as we have. That is my understanding.

Do we have a list of what those concerns were? Do they relate to people banging off a hot grid, or steam coming out of the machine?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They are to do with head height when people are working.

Is there a concern that people might bang their heads when climbing up ladders to put stuff into the printer?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No. There are three levels on the machine. The top level requires a clearance of 2.1 m, so it is to do with the head height above the roof. There are all sorts of manual handling issues and so on relating to working on the top level. People would have to be bend if they could not clear the ceiling.

Do people use a cherry-picker style seat to work on the top tier.?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They stand on a platform. A diagram of the machine is on the screen. It is a bit difficult to read, but to the right of the screen, we have circled "1154 cross walkway" in red. That is the top height at which an operator can stand. A clearance of 2.1 m has to be left between that and the ceiling.

In the public sector.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Everywhere.

Everywhere, but the public sector takes it more seriously. Is that it?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I think that is it, genuinely.

The public sector has to comply with the rules 100%.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is the right thing to do and we would always do that, no matter the issue. That is why we are carrying out the other works, because-----

Is this an Irish thing or an international problem? Does Komori encounter the same issue when supplying elsewhere?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is a machinery directive.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is an EU requirement, yes, but adherence to that requirement is another thing. Not everybody will adhere to that requirement. That seems to be the case. We, however, do.

It is not up to Komori, the company which makes the machines, to adhere to the requirement.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is up to the employer.

It is up to the employer. To summarise, in order to comply with health and safety rules, there was no choice but to increase the head height so that a person could stand or sit on the platform to operate the machine and do his or her job.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

We had no choice.

People would otherwise have to crawl around.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

There was no choice unless people were to crawl around, yes.

Mr. John Cahill

May I add to that? The Deputy is talking about the 2.85 m. That became clear when Komori sent us its installation drawings. Komori was carrying out the installation. It sent a drawing showing areas it wanted removed so that the large pallets of machinery could be brought in. It also gave us a drawing indicating ceiling tiles to be removed. It believed there was----

It was 350 mm, was it not?

Mr. John Cahill

-----350 mm of space above the tiles, but there is actually structure.

Who told Komori there was 35 cm, or 350 mm as Mr. Cahill would say, of space above the false ceiling?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

To clarify, Komori asked a question about it and it was told that there was 35 cm of space.

Who gave Komori that answer?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I understand it was the print unit.

Someone probably just popped a tile and put a measuring tape up there.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

To be honest, I believe that is what happened. That is the reality. Someone had a measuring stick and-----

The plant, air conditioning and ventilation are held within the space above the false ceiling.

Mr. John Cahill

No, it is a structural deck which allows people to service all the plant. All of the air conditioning and so on is actually fixed to the structure of the building. This deck is a floor to allow people access. As we said before, there is an awful lot of plant up there. The deck allows safe service access to that plant.

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

To answer the Deputy's question, there is a void there but the void has structure-----

I really do understand this.

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

The void has structure within it. It is not just space.

This is on the basement floor. There is nothing beneath it. There is clearance of somewhat more than 2 m and then there is a false ceiling composed of foam tiles, above which there is 35 cm of space. What kind of plant fits into that 35 cm?

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

There is structure there.

Mr. John Cahill

All the structure is there - steel and timber.

It is the structure that holds up the next floor.

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

Yes.

Mr. John Cahill

It holds up the access deck for servicing.

Is the deck for servicing the air conditioning?

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

Yes.

Where is the big air conditioning unit, the spinny thing, located?

Mr. John Cahill

It is located above the deck. There is about 2 m head height above the deck. That is what has been lifted up in the drawing. One can see all the pieces lifted up, which provides the head height.

Is that not for the whole building?

Mr. John Cahill

No.

It is for that room.

Mr. John Cahill

It is a wholly separate structural floor.

Mr. John Cahill

It allows access. It has to take the load of anyone standing upon it. The service load is 1.5 kN.

Is the stuff in this area is to service the area immediate underneath it or other parts of the building?

Mr. John Cahill

It mostly services the area underneath.

So it services rooms 3 and 4.

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

The ceiling has been lifted only in the area of the machine.

It has been ramped up.

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

Yes. It has been pushed up in the area of the machine.

Perhaps I am not being clear. What is in that area? Is it just tubing and wires or is it the actual air conditioning unit?

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

There is a floor above the print area.

Does Mr. O'Sullivan mean a flat floor or a storey?

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

There is a space there in which a lot of equipment, including ventilation equipment, is located.

It is for the whole building.

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

No, it is just for the print area.

Did it have to be above it?

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

There is air conditioning equipment on the floor of the print room itself but there is other equipment upstairs. There is a lot of plant for this.

I can understand that but I do not see why it is required that it be above the print room. There is no reason to have it above it.

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

That space was there because the area had originally been a double-height car park. It was opportune to put that equipment up there. Otherwise valuable space elsewhere would have to be taken up.

Was lowering the floor ever considered?

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

That would be a massive structural job.

Was it considered? If something was being done to increase the load-bearing-----

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

The space required is 400 mm to 500 mm. It would be very hard to find that in-----

Mr. John Cahill

I am sorry, I could not hear the Deputy.

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

She is asking about taking down the floor.

Could the floor have been brought down as opposed to going up? Could more ramps have been included?

Mr. Jim O'Sullivan

We would, perhaps, have steps.

I would hope that if they are being put in, they are not being taken out. I will send the witnesses a note afterwards. I just wonder why the plant had to be directly above it. The first lesson learned is that one should have a specialist architect involved. I suggest that having someone who can measure would help. Is it the case that, despite all these teams and project managers, nobody was 100% in charge? Was that the problem? No one was responsible for the ultimate decision, checking that boxes were ticked, and checking the height. Nobody said that this was very expensive, very big or very heavy and asked to make sure things were 100% right before it was bought. Is it fair to say that is a failing in the system?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I want to be really fair to the people who were in charge of the project because they are hard-working people who have done a lot for the organisation.

I do not believe anyone deliberately did this.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I understand that but they did not have the skill set for what they were trying to do. That is it. There is a difference between knowing a lot about printing and installing a printer. That is where the problem arose. Installing a printer can give rise to architectural, mechanical and electrical issues.

Earlier, someone mentioned that we did not need certain parts of the machine. I just want to clarify that. There is a printing press; the plates, which make the design; the folding machines; and the guillotines, which cut. Even divided up, each of these parts is needed.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes. Absolutely.

Otherwise it would be like buying a car without bothering with a radio.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Or a steering wheel.

One would need that. With regard to the building works and the outsourcing, two round figures of €100,000 have been given. I am always suspicious of round figures like that.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

May I explain the outsourced element? In order to be absolutely fair and as transparent as possible, I took the outsourcing costs for this year and last year. In the previous year there had been an outsourcing charge of €8,000. I took that year, 2017, as a normal year. I then added the outsourcing costs for 2018 and 2019, which came to €116,000, and I took €16,000 away, based on the outsourcing costs for 2017. I believed that to be a fair figure.

It is an estimate.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes, it is an estimate.

That is fine. Finally, there is precedent for this issue arising in respect of the previous machine. I, therefore, cannot understand this. Perhaps I am missing something. A great amount is involved. I am not arguing that. There is history in this regard as €1.14 million was spent on works in 2004 to allow for the delivery of four Heidelberg presses.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

We had to fit out a new printing unit. That is why the money was spent.

Is it fair to say that, although the business case for a new printer could be made, with regard to the constraints of the layout of these Houses, the location and cost of installation should always be considered in future?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That is a significant lesson for us.

With regard to proportionality, looking back to 2004, it is not unusual for such a massive amount to be required to install a machine because it is difficult to locate items in these buildings.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They are difficult buildings to work with. We are doing our level best but what is required is new purpose-built accommodation for the Oireachtas. Now that we have completed the historic Leinster House project, that is something to which we will turn our attention in terms of planning and development.

Is Kildare House a listed building?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is not, no. It is a 1960s office block.

It is a bit like broadband in houses. It is trying to fit modern technology into-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is trying to shoehorn stuff in.

And there is a cost associated and difficulties.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Unfortunately, there is.

I thank Mr. Finnegan for his time today.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I thank the Deputy.

I thank him for answering the questions so honestly. I wish him the best of luck with this.

I will not hold up the case on this. Mr. Finnegan has been asked every question possible and all of the questions I was going to ask but because it is so serious I want to add a few comments and questions. I will begin by saying I accept the business case. I am half a businessman myself and the Oireachtas did the right thing in purchasing the machine. There is no question about that. The public in general will accept the existing printers were old, they were reaching the age where they had to be decommissioned and the Oireachtas bought a new machine. Everyone accepts this and the reasons. Are there any recovery costs from the old machines? When the new machine is up and running will there be any moneys to be recovered from the old machines?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

As part of the contract we traded in the old machines and received €40,000 as a trade in. The new machine was €848,000 excluding VAT and we got €40,000 for the old machines so we paid €808,000.

Was that for the two existing machines?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

We traded in the two machines and my understanding is the value was €40,000 in total.

For some reason this case has caught the public imagination. I do not know why. It is probably because of the national children's hospital and broadband. There is a general feeling out there in the public. This is a general feeling I am getting as a politician, that politics, politicians, civil servants and public servants are playing with taxpayers' money and they do not take accountability. This is the general feeling out there. This is another comedy of errors that is happening, whether in Dublin or wherever, and people are very angry over it. They are angry because we have a housing crisis, a trolley crisis and a health crisis and they see what they feel is a waste of money. I hear it myself at meetings in my area. They see it as a waste of money with no accountability. I do not want anyone's head to roll but there must be lessons learned and there must be responsibility taken for it. Mr. Finnegan named out a litany of people and various bodies involved in this over the past two years but it happened again.

I know Mr. Finnegan said there should have been an architect giving advice and that it was a mistake by someone that an architect was not brought in at the beginning. An architect had to be brought in later. I have several questions I want to ask for the public. How much does Mr. Finnegan feel could have been saved if an architect had been involved at the beginning? We hear different figures. We have heard €1.169 million, €1.369 million, €2 million and now that the OPW is involved it has gone to €2.5 million. There were figures of €1.169 million and €1.369 million at the beginning and now it has gone to €2.5 million. This is what people see and they ask how someone can stand over this type of an increase with all of the different things that went wrong. Will Mr. Finnegan show where we could have saved that money that was spent because of the mistakes that were made?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Before I deal with that directly I will comment on Deputy Aylward's opening remarks. I understand the public anger over this. It is a matter of deep personal regret that it happened. We speak about accountability and as the head of this organisation I am here today to account and answer every question I can. I have tried to help in every way possible in terms of preparing reports and being transparent about the process but I genuinely understand public anger. I have heard it myself. It is an awful lot of money. There is a perception, and it is correct, that the project was not well managed and nobody can deny this.

In terms of what would have happened had this project run according to plan, let me make the assumption, if I may, that the Komori printing press is the correct machine. I have no evidence whatsoever that it is not so I will make this assumption. An architect would have been brought in on day one. The architect would have advised the project team that a machine of the type it was purchasing would require significant architectural works. The cost of those works would have been very similar to the costs that turned out. Ultimately, the big costs we would not have incurred were the level of outsourcing and the storage costs.

Do we have costs on all of that?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I have them in the report.

Could we get a report on those costs?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They are in the report.

Are they in it already?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They are in the report, yes. They are the actual costs that we incurred where we should not have incurred them; €112,000 is an awful lot of money, it really is. I understand why people are very annoyed over it. I have worked through this myself over the past three weeks. I have been very annoyed over it myself. I have worked through all of this process. Ultimately, when we look at this in the round and go back to 2004 and see the costs incurred then and the costs incurred now, they are not dramatically out of line. The cost of the equipment, I think, came in at €1.8 million. If we take out the outsourcing and storage, the costs are around €1.7 million. For me, this is a 15 year investment. It is €1.7 million over 15 years. If we do the sums it is somewhere in the order of €100,000 per year for printing. That is probably a reasonable sum, at €2,000 per week, if we were to look at what the cost would be if we were to outsource. Let us suppose the Oireachtas did not do printing at all. One of the other things that has come out of this is that Members have legitimate printing needs in terms of communicating with their constituents. This is an essential and fundamental role of public representatives. It is something we try to support Members in doing. If Members were to communicate with their constituents via an outsource model the cost would be substantially more. In the same way as doing an analysis of leasing versus buying, if we do a further analysis of just outsourcing instead of doing something I suspect that would be the most expensive option of all.

That is acceptable. Some of my colleagues here today have made statements such as "shopping sprees", as if Mr. Finnegan is going off spreading the money. I do not accept that either. I do not want to be associated with stating Mr. Finnegan was on a shopping spree as if he is going out buying for Santy Claus. That is not a remark that I agree with. What we need to bring back into the whole system, including us as politicians, is that the public has confidence in us to handle public money and handle taxpayers' money right and spend it accordingly. Our job on the Committee of Public Accounts is to follow the money and make sure everyone is accountable for what money they spend and that it is not being wasted. This is the most important thing. This is why I agree with the Chairman that in his remarks today Mr. Finnegan came across badly.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

My apologies.

He came across as though we did not ask the right questions the last day he came before us.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I certainly did not mean to come across that way and I apologise if it did.

We have an old saying down in my part of the country, "see no evil, hear no evil". Because we did not ask the right questions we did not get the right answers. I would not like that kind of thing.

We have the costs laid out now but there is still talk about storage and training. Mr. Finnegan said there will be training. I am sure there are health and safety issues and perhaps there will be union issues regarding extra pay or extra moneys for handling the machine. Are all the costs finished with or could there be more than the €2.5 million when all of this is seen through? The machine might not be up and running as soon as Mr. Finnegan thinks. There might be further storage costs. What are the storage costs since 2018?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The storage costs are gone. The machine is now installed. We were paying €2,000 per month but that ended once the machine was delivered and installed.

That is finished and gone.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes. I suppose the big outstanding issue-----

How much does Mr. Finnegan think that training will cost?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

The training is included in the price of the machine as part of the package.

It is part of it.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes. The essential thing for us now is to get the machine up and running as quickly as we can.

We will work with staff in the print unit collaboratively to address the concerns around health and safety and to move forward with the implementation of this machine.

Could there be a problems down the line if the unions are demanding extra moneys for this?

Mr. Peter Finnegan

There could, yes, to be honest; if people took that approach. I would hope that that would not happen. We have good relationships with people. At the end of the day these people are our employees, for whom we have concern and we would aim to work with them to ensure this machine is operational as soon as possible.

I thank Mr. Finnegan for coming in here today. He had a tough engagement and this is the second time he has been in front of us now.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I thank the Deputy.

These things need to be clarified and the public need to be assured that we are doing the right thing.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Could I just say that there is no one sorrier than me that we are in this position here today?

Mr. Finnegan does not need to-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It is right and proper that I come in and that hard questions are asked of me in the course of that. We have done our level best to try to get the bottom of what happened with this particular project. Serious mistakes were made. There is no denying that. As an organisation we have acknowledged that. As the Accounting Officer, I am quite properly and rightly being held to account for those. There are a lot of things that we would all do differently in respect of this matter. I assure the committee that I am absolutely determined that these lessons will be learned going forward and there will be no recurrence of this type of thing. It is my earnest desire to ensure that we can do that.

I accept all of that. I wish to make a number of closing remarks at this point, as we have had a very long engagement with two reports.

Mr. Finnegan's last comments to Deputy Aylward were very useful, in that if it had gone correctly at the beginning, and if Mr. Finnegan had brought the OPW in on day one, and if he had said this was the printer that we need-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Yes.

-----the OPW would have said it would cost a couple of hundred thousand euro to get the premises right. It would have stated that it might have to stress-test the floor or to move to a different place. Had the OPW come on board earlier, the costs that it did incur to have that work done, after it came onto the scene, would have arisen in any event .

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They would, yes.

The point I am making is that - I am not certain that people will see it this way - I want to be totally fair because Mr. Finnegan's honesty, candour and frankness is appreciated today-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I thank the Chairman.

----- in this regard. There is no suggestion that Mr. Finnegan was trying to hold back information, as he had the information in his notes, but in case people got the impression that our committee was not doing its job-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I certainly did not mean to convey that-----

Moreover, that was not Mr. Finnegan's intention.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

It absolutely was not.

In conversation with people, it is possible not to see it that way but possible for somebody else to see it another way. There is no question of that ever having been Mr. Finnegan's intention. What got people is that the equipment ultimately cost €1.369 million. Then, because work had to be done on the building after the machine had been purchased, it ended up costing €1.8 million or thereabouts.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

Thereabouts.

Had it been said at the beginning of the process that we were going to spend €1.369 million on a machine, together with €400,000 or €500,000 on structural works to accommodate all this because it is going to be here for the next 12 to 15 years and that the overall budget was going to be in the order of €1.8 million, people would have accepted it. Where the Oireachtas was caught was that there was an earlier figure out there that we mentioned in the accounts, of €1.69 million. We find, however, six months later, that to complete the process, which was still evolving at a time of Mr. Finnegan's last appearance here, it ended up being closer to €2 million.

It was the way in which the information became known. Nobody doubts the value of the work that was done by OPW and the necessity of the national Parliament to have its own printing works and not to have to outsource it and to rely upon private sector printers somewhere out on the M50 to get material in and out to it. A Parliament has to have control over certain aspects of its own activities. That is why I would say, as Chairman, that it would be important to have these facilities in-house and that they be up to scratch. Because of our location here in Dublin 2, we are fairly restricted because of space, something we understand.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

We are.

As Deputy Aylward has said and Mr. Finnegan has recognised this himself, people are able to understand-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

They are.

-----the buying of a printer and then discovering that it is too big to fit into the room after it has been paid for. If that had been addressed earlier, when the printer was being purchased, we could have waited six months because of the need to do some structural works, and things might have unfolded substantially differently. The cost might not have been significantly different, however, if we had known about the costs that would be involved in the structural work earlier in the play, rather than later. People will always understand when one is initiating any project that is going to cost €1 million and ends up costing more that if one had known at the outset that it would cost a larger figure, people would have been prepared for it and would have understood it. Nobody is suggesting there was waste of any money but it is the sequencing of the way the information came out.

I acknowledge, which I also said at our earlier meeting, that Mr. Finnegan went to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission in November 2017, which is over two years ago, and said that this was going to cost approximately €1.5 million. He had not all of the detail worked out at that point and could not have had-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

No.

-----but he knew it was in that ballpark figure. When all is said and done, the current position is not that far from that ballpark figure. People may disagree with my summation of this but there is a lesson there to get the budget right at the beginning, get everything factored in, get the full cost out to the public and then the progress can be monitored, rather than having costs evolving as the project evolves.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I could not agree more with the Chairman's analysis. Had this project been done the way it should have been done, the cost would be similar but the perception would be completely different.

I call Deputy O'Connell. People may disagree with my interpretation.

I do not think that anybody can doubt the sincerity and earnestness of Mr. Finnegan and I thoroughly accept his apology.

If we are trying to be helpful, I will suggest how we might get a few pounds back. I see Mr. Finnegan is grinning as to how a company would ever give money back, when the room was not measured correctly. On the maintenance agreement, however-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That is the thing, yes.

That is the key and is the point where I would fight it. I would say, come here, lads, maintain this for an extra five years and we will not have Komori all over the social media; not that I would be threatening anybody. That is where I would go with this. The company is not going to write Mr. Finnegan a cheque but it might provide five years' maintenance.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

That is correct.

I will go with him to the meeting.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I might call on the Deputy's negotiation skills.

One further point that a Deputy mentioned in passing is that if the printer is of such high quality and if there happens to be excess capacity at different stages, other work in this building complex might not have to be outsourced if some of it can be done here. There may be a facility to get some value out of this printer during the quieter periods when the Dáil is in recess and there is not the same printing demand. Neighbouring public bodies in the public service, or other aspects or activities of the Dáil might be directed in that way. I will throw that suggestion out there.

At this stage, I thank all the witnesses from the Houses of the Oireachtas for coming in. Coincidentally, I believe Mr Finnegan was present at the last meeting before the summer recess and he is here now at the last meeting before the Christmas break. I also want to thank our colleagues in the OPW, as well as the Comptroller and Auditor General and his staff. Mr. Finnegan will be pleased to know we have finished our public discussion on this except for whatever information we have requested that might be worked through to us in the weeks ahead. In fairness to the public who want this thing explained, we have done our best to clarify all the issues out there and I believe we have done a good job for the public service-----

Mr. Peter Finnegan

I believe the committee has, in fairness.

-----the Committee of Public Accounts and the Oireachtas. I am aware that some people still will not be satisfied but from all sides, both members of this committee and Mr. Finnegan's side, a good, honest, decent attempt has been made to deal to the best of our ability with the issues that arose here.

Mr. Peter Finnegan

To close, I thank members of the committee for their courtesy here today. This was a very necessary meeting and I hope I have explained things fully and have provided all the necessary information.

If issues that have not arisen at this meeting come to my attention subsequently, I will write to the committee.

I thank Mr. Finnegan.

The witnesses withdrew.
The committee adjourned at 5.50 p.m. sine die.