Thursday, 15 February 2007

Ceisteanna (58)

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

55 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of expenditure on consultancy by the Revenue Commissioners in 2003, 2004 and 2005; the number of consultants engaged by the Revenue Commissioners in those years; and the steps which have been taken to reduce the expenditure on consultancy and the reliance on consultants by the Revenue Commissioners in these years and for the future. [5785/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that almost all their consultancy expenditure is in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) area. While Revenue endeavour as far as possible to carry out their ICT work in-house, and use the various civil service ICT recruitment options to maintain a cadre of skilled and experienced internal staff, they do use ‘external support' to develop tangible assets in the form of software which is recognised by the C&AG in the annual appropriation accounts.

Recent examples of this are the engagement of computer experts to develop and provide support for critical ICT projects such as the redesign of the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Customs Automated Entry Processing (AEP) systems as well as the maintenance and enhancement of Revenue's underlying application frameworks — their back-office Integrated Taxation Services and the public-facing Revenue On-Line Services.

Revenue also employ consultants who ‘advise and recommend' in the traditional manner. These consultancies represent typically low-cost, once-off business area assignments. For clarity, the numbers involved in these consultancies are shown separately in the table.

The amount of expenditure and the numbers engaged are shown in the table. The number of people varies from time to time during each year depending, for example, on the number of projects being worked on at the same time and the stage that projects are at.

Year

Expenditure on external support/ business consultancy

Numbers engaged on external support for ICT projects

Numbers engaged on business consultancy

€ million*

2003

12.45

47–82

39

2004

18.53

57 –124

46

2005

22.9

104 –130

47

* Figures include c. €5m per annum from the Information Society Fund.

As regards reducing reliance on consultants, it would not be realistic to expect to eliminate consultants altogether from an organisation like the Revenue Commissioners, because of the organisation's size and the complexity of its operations. However, as already mentioned, Revenue do try as far as possible to carry out their ICT work in-house, and uses the various civil service ICT recruitment options to maintain a cadre of skilled and experienced internal staff. Latterly they have used provisions of Sustaining Progress and its successor for ‘open' recruitment.

Revenue also test the market, via open EU competitions, for all key projects such as PAYE (2003) and AEP (2005). They have issued a Prior Information Notice in the EU Journal stating an intent to approach the market again in 2007 for external ICT support for the full portfolio of projects and frameworks.

Finally, the figures in the table above must be seen in context: Revenue's total expenditure in 2005, for example, was €387m and it employed some 6,445 staff.