A recent study says that there are more than 800 quasi autonomous non governmental agencies, or Quangos to you and me in existence spending in excess of €13 billion a year. That nobody can be sure of the exact number is an indictment of their management.
It is debateable whether many of them ever had a useful purpose. For example what possible use could the ‘Task Force on Active Citizenship’ have in todays economic climate. Its mission is claimed to “recommend measures to facilitate and encourage a greater degree of engagement by citizens in all aspects of life”. Or the National Children’s Advisory Council, which “have to make a difference to children and young people’s lives by making childhood and youth a more positive and enjoyable experience for everyone”. Why not just give the funds to the ISPCC or Barnardos and be done with it?
Other bodies with a questionable raison d’etre include The Mushroom Taskforce, Beaumont Hospital Carpark Committee, The Board of Ulster Scotch, An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaiochta, The National Competitiveness Council and The Enterprise Strategy Group.
Some 200 of these quangos were established in the last four years alone. This financial excess means there now exists one quango for every 4,000 people in the country. This is an absolute shambles and a waste of money.
If we examine a few of these august bodies in greater detail we start to find a culture of wanton waste and greed. For example the Refugee Appeals Tribunal refused to publish decisions while paying almost €8m in fees to its members in less than five years. Such is the level of excess in this organisation payments that one individual was paid a whopping €780,000 over five years. Any wonder that they do not wish to hold themselves accountable.
Many of these quangos could easily be self financing. For example the Irish Greyhound Boards (IGB ) €13.8m government funding could be saved if it and other sports bodies with a strong gambling element exploited lucrative betting and sponsorship income. If we look more closely we can see that the IGB has not covered itself in glory and is a classic case of poor management and excess being paid for with public funds.
A €1.5m legal bill from a Supreme Court case involving Tote Advanced is just one avoidable cost paid by the public. This is in the main due to poor management which enjoyed travel and promotional expenditure of €600,000 in one year. All to manage some greyhounds!
The Comptroller and Auditor General highlighted some bizarre perks enjoyed by certain staff in the IGB which included complimentary cars for two key staff which resulted in the IGB ending up with a tax and benefit in kind liability.
Other equally bizarre happenings in this quango include €63,000 of goods purchased from one person who subsequently became a board member. The purchase of the lease of IGB's premises in Limerick resulted in payments of €95,000 to a former CEO's daughter-in-law to pay her to rescind her office tenancy there. The bill to investigate such excesses cost €76,000 alone. We are paying for this.
It is time to put a stop to this madness. This is a waste of public funds. Most of these organisations have no real purpose and should be closed immediately. Many were established simply to reward certain people for services rendered to the Fianna Fáil party. People who have nothing to contribute but their invoices. This gravy train must be stopped.
Pearce Flannery is Ireland's premier business advisor and training facilitator and is an acclaimed conference and motivational speaker.
He believes that to get improved results a business must be open to change from the top down.
This philosophy also holds true for the country!