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Two years on, the quangos are still here

A Sunday Times survey shows that the government’s plan to close 46 quangos has stalled – with only 16 ‘rationalised’.

The plans to rationalise State Agencies were announced in October 2008 - but have yet to be fully acted upon.
The plans to rationalise State Agencies were announced in October 2008 - but have yet to be fully acted upon.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive

THE GOVERNMENT’S plans to scrap 46 quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations (or ‘quangos’), announced in the Budget two years ago, have almost completely stalled, it is reported.

A study by the Sunday Times newspaper has revealed that of the 46 state agencies earmarked for “rationalisation” in the 2009 Budget, which was brought forward and announced in October 2008, only 16 had seen any downsizing in their activity.

Furthermore, the government has since set up even more quangos – such as NAMA and the National Transport Agency – completely in contrast with the spirit of its proposals to downsize the number of extra-departmental agencies.

The funding of the agencies that have survived the government’s cull has cost the state over €100m – while the savings made by the agencies cut have been just €10.

Many of the 16 rationalised bodies, it claims, had already effectively ceased to function before their “abolition”. For example, the National Adult Learning Council, abolished in 2008, had not been given any funding or held a meeting of its directors since 2003.

The Educational Disadvantage Committee, meanwhile, had not met since 2005. The Combat Poverty Agency, meanwhile, has saved €3m through its closure, but the government has still been forced to maintain the lease on its premises until it expires next year at an extra cost of €400,000.

The Food Safety Authority, which was due to be subsumed into a new Public Health and Medicines Safety Authority, has even been given €17m a year with which it runs high-profile nationwide advertising campaigns.

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Gavan Reilly

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