Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (93)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

93. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the cost-benefit analysis of the national broadband plan conducted by a company (details supplied). [21778/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

In relation to the National Broadband Plan my Department commissioned a comprehensive Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) in line with the Public Spending Code (PSC). It is clear from the CBA that has been carried out that even in a pessimistic scenario, the benefits of this investment will outweigh the costs. A CBA Benefits report and a detailed benefits calculation annex was published in 2015 by my Department as part of the approval to launch the procurement process. All updates to the 2015 CBA were shared with officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) and the final CBA has been published by my Department this May. The CBA has been developed and updated over the last four years. It was only through detailed engagement with the market through the 800 hours of dialogue with all bidders and through receiving the final tender submission by Granahan McCourt, that it was possible to finalise the published CBA which remains positive, even in the pessimistic scenario.

There was also significant engagement between my Department and its advisers and the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) on behalf of DPER on the CBA. The development of the CBA has incorporated feedback from IGEES and DPER officials.

There are challenges in applying the PSC to a bespoke project such as the NBP however, all of the benefits included in the CBA are consistent with the PSC Guidelines and generally accepted approached to CBAs of this nature.

PwC have provided all necessary assurances to my Department that the final CBA provided to the DPER is accurate for all known costs and benefits allowed for under the PSC and is fully compliant with the PSC.

The CBA has taken a very conservative view on the future benefits, for example it assumes there will be no growth in remote working compared to that carried out today. The following benefits are not included:

- Expansion of remote working

- Remote health monitoring & diagnosis

- Cloud based service and connected devices

- Digital learning

- Smart farming

- Realising the benefits of e-government.