The Public Spending Code requires that Departments undertake an appropriate appraisal, such as cost benefit analysis (CBA) or cost effectiveness analysis, on all expenditure proposals with an estimated value in excess of €20 million, before any approval is given to proceed to procurement. The Public Spending Code further requires Departments to submit their appraisals for such projects to my Department for technical review - in terms of the methodology used and to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Public Spending Code.
Departments are further required, under the Public Spending Code, to continually update project appraisals / CBAs as the procurement process evolves, and as actual tender costs (as opposed to cost estimates) become available. My Department may be consulted to technically review such updated appraisals / CBAs, if necessary.
While my Department is not involved in the assessment of the tenders for individual projects, if it emerges that the cost of a project is not capable of being met within the agreed multi-annual capital allocation of the relevant procuring Department, then that Department must engage with my Department to explore how to proceed in relation to the project.
In the case of the National Broadband Plan, the Department of Communications Climate Action and Environment engaged with my Department in relation to the technical review of the cost benefit analysis of the proposal, in accordance with the requirements of the Public Spending Code. In addition, over recent months, the two Departments have worked together to explore a number of potential alternative options to the current NBP tender process. These options have been set out in the documentation published by the Departments in recent weeks.
As none of these contingency options were taken forward they were not subjected to a fuller specification and development of a detailed project proposal requiring a formal CBA.