Legislation to enable the amalgamation of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency is currently being drafted and is due to be published shortly. Since the proposal to amalgamate the two agencies was announced, both of the agencies have been working together to plan for the merger. In that regard a number of working groups drawn from staff of both agencies have been looking at potential synergies between the two agencies and looking at the practical issues that will need to be addressed in preparation for the amalgamation. A project group from within the staff of the agencies has been appointed to manage the amalgamation. Apart from costs associated with staff time in relation to those working groups, the only expenditure to date by the two agencies on the amalgamation is €14,230.74. This comprised of two separate payments. One was in respect of a consultative process that sought to determine how to deliver the mandate for the new organisation in an efficient and effective manner. That expenditure, which was borne equally between the two agencies, includes the costs of an external facilitator selected following a competitive tendering process and the hire of meeting room facilities. The other expenditure related to the purchase of seven IT software licences which amounted to €5,562.46. Of this amount, €4,510.13 was paid for the licences, €1,037.33 was paid in VAT to the Revenue Commissioners and €15.00 was paid in bank charges.
Following publication of the draft legislation, the agencies will commence work on a Corporate Structure for the new organisation that will include an assessment of the initial level of staffing required to enable it to carry out the functions assigned to it in the legislation. It is anticipated that all the existing functions of each agency will be incorporated into the work of the new body as well as additional functions to be assigned under the legislation. Both the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency have Employment Control Frameworks in place agreed by my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and it is expected that the new body will have to plan its workforce within the limits of their authorised staff numbers.