The Department has given a commitment to undertake a review of the Pilot Schools, i.e. the first bundle of five post primary schools that were delivered in 2001/2002 through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
A service provider has been appointed to conduct a comprehensive review of the Pilots Schools, including a direct comparison with traditional schools procured around the same time. This goes beyond what might be normally envisaged in a post-project review and will provide useful information that will be relevant to the wider school building programme. The review will incorporate detailed condition surveys of the buildings, as well as comparing the operation and maintenance provision in both PPP and traditional schools.
The more detailed nature of this review responds directly to a recommendation in the 2004 C&AG report on the Pilot Schools that, at the appropriate time, the costs and benefits of adopting the PPP approach should be assessed relative to the performance of a comparable group of schools procured conventionally. In line with the requirements under the Public Spending Code for post project reviews, it is intended to publish the key findings of the Review towards the end of 2019. It will also be determined whether the approach taken provides a suitable framework for further PPP reviews.
The review of the Pilot Schools will be the first formal Post Project Review of PPP projects carried out by the Department. However, reviews in the form of lessons learned exercises have been undertaken in relation to PPP projects delivered in the education sector and such projects are also the subject of ongoing review and monitoring. Prior to handover to the Department, the NDFA conducts its own internal review of the procurement and construction phases and identifies any lessons which should inform future approaches. Lessons learnt reports in respect of Schools Bundle 1, 2 and 3 have previously been shared with the Public Accounts Committee.
Important lessons learnt from earlier PPP projects have been incorporated into more recent approaches. In particular, the Project Agreement, which provides the contractual basis for the PPP arrangement, has been regularly updated to ensure that it provides a robust framework for measuring the performance of the private partner and protecting the interests of the State over the lifetime of the project.
The Department is also tracking the actual enrolments in PPP schools against the long-term projected enrolments. Enrolment data is provided on the Department’s website. This is important in assessing, as per the Public Spending Code, that the basis on which a project was undertaken proved correct and that the planned outcomes were the appropriate responses to actual public needs.
A lessons learned exercise in relation to Schools Bundle 5, the PPP project impacted by the collapse of Carillion, has been initiated and will be completed once the final projects in that Bundle have been delivered.