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HSE 'made eejits of' Government by appointing PwC to review National Children's Hospital costs

The firm was found to have ‘high level’ input into a decision to continue with constructing the project last year.

The Public Accounts Committee meets today
The Public Accounts Committee meets today
Image: Oireachtas.ie

MEMBERS OF THE Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have criticised the HSE for appointing PwC to review the costs of constructing the National Children’s Hospital.

In January, the Government confirmed that the firm would be paid €500,000 to examine why the cost of the project had escalated by hundreds of millions of Euro, following weeks of controversy.

The Department of Health chose to retain the services of PwC after the firm gave “high-level input” into the decision to allow Dutch construction company BAM to continue with the project in November 2018.

However, it emerged last night that PwC’s review of costs into spending on the project was carried out by the same personnel from the firm who advised the HSE at the end of last year.

Speaking at a hearing of the PAC today, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said the committee was being asked to accept that those tasked with completing the review would disagree with their original advice.

“This is nonsense…I just think this kind of response really, kind of, it’s almost like we’re being made eejits of now,” she said.

“There’s the same personnel involved, given ‘high level’ advice, then asked to critique themselves. That for me just screams conflict of interest.”

Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane told the hearing that the firm appointed to carry out the independent report should have been “completely at arm’s length” to the project and had no previous involvement in it.

He said that PwC’s “high-level” input into last November’s decision should have precluded the firm from being involved in the review.

“That’s a clear conflict as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

Fianna Fáil TD Marc McSharry compared the situation to “contestants judging [a] beauty pageant”.

He also expressed concern that the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure, Robert Watt, did not see a conflict of interest in the appointment of PwC to carry out the review.

“God knows what is going on in other capital projects throughout the country if this is the case…” he said.

“If PWC were involved with high level input…the fact that you gave high level input means that you can’t review it.

“It’s called an independent review. That wasn’t independent.” 

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Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

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