The Local Government Audit Service has criticised Kilkenny County Council after nearly a quarter of the money spent on a local 15-unit social housing development went on consultancy fees.The housing scheme, on Nuncio Road, was proposed by the SOS Kilkenny Housing Association for residents with special needs, and funded by the council. The voluntary housing project cost €830,400, but €202,994 was spent on consultants – representing 24.45% of the contract price.
Architects got the lion’s share of fees. Local firm Bluett & O’ Donoghue was paid €114,000, while quantity surveyors McGarry Associates received over €41,000. Drawing up specifications for the site cost almost €25,000.
In total, more cash was spent on producing plans for the development than on buying the site, which cost €200,000. In a response, the manger agreed that it should have been recognised that the design fees were ‘excessive’ prior to approval.
The Local Government Audit Service also found that correct procurement rules were not followed for hiring consultants.
Rules not followed
“The consultants were not procured in accordance with the EU Procurement directive,” writes the auditor.
“The fact that these consultants were employed by a voluntary body funded through the council requires that all systems and procedures need to comply with the procurement directive and all costs be closely monitored to ensure value for money is achieved. In the current climate a fixed price should be obtained through the procurement process.
“In addition, as well as the purchase cost, the long term costs of management fees can be quite high and represent a further operational cost under these schemes. Systems need to be implemented to ensure that all costs including long term costs, management fees etc be taken account of, in the capital procurement process.”
The full report can be found at http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/AuditService/2011AuditorsReports/FileDownLoad, 32599,en.pdf.