Northern Ireland Assembly
Committee Recalls Department Of Finance Officials
The Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee is recalling Department of Finance officials, including Permanent Secretary and Accounting Officer Sue Gray, to give further evidence on two Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) reports into which it is conducting an inquiry. The Departmental Officials previously gave evidence to the Committee on 24 September 2020 and will return to the Committee’s meeting on Thursday 22 October.
Chairperson of the Committee, William Humphrey MLA recently said:
“While we appreciated the Department officials giving evidence on the inquiry last month, we were not satisfied that they fully answered the questions we asked. It is true that the officials provided us with assurances that many of the issues, identified by the NIAO, are being addressed; however, we were given little insight into what had gone wrong in the first place.
“We were particularly concerned that the Permanent Secretary did not appear to be in a position to provide answers about what had taken place before she came into post. This has been normal practice in the past.”
The inquiries under discussion are LandWeb and Managing the NI Direct Strategic Partner Project – helping to deliver Digital Transformation. LandWeb is a Public Finance Initiative (PFI) project, managed by the Department of Finance’s Land and Property Services Division and delivered by British Telecommunications plc (BT). It provides online access to Northern Ireland’s Land Registry, Registry of Deeds, and Statutory Charges register. The Committee agreed to carry out an inquiry after the NIAO found that the fees for using LandWeb were set too high, and that BT received a number of contract extensions that increased their fees from £46 million to £97.89 million.
The Digital Transformation Project originally saw BT being awarded a contract in 2012 to provide IT solutions, skills and capabilities to support the migration of citizen services to online provision. The contract funded a contact centre, developed 13 major applications, two major consultancy contracts and a number of cross-cutting applications across various central government departments. Not until September 2018, six years after the contract was established, was the Department able to provide details of the total cost against the individual projects delivered through it.
Chairperson William Humphrey concluded:
“Given the important issues at stake, as well as the budgets involved, we look forward to having an opportunity to delve more deeply into some of the matters that were not fully explored previously.
“We believe that this information will help us to conclude our findings and make meaningful recommendations for improvements in the future. We are pleased to welcome the officials to our next meeting.”
Latest News from
Northern Ireland Assembly
Future Agricultural Policy must be Robust and Fit for Purpose, says Committee23/11/2020 16:15:00
The Assembly’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee recently (19 November 2020) received a Departmental briefing on future agricultural policy.
Communities Committee Launches Call for Evidence on New Liquor Licensing Law17/11/2020 14:15:00
The Assembly’s Committee for Communities yesterday launched its call for evidence on the new Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill.
Committee Launches Bill of Rights Consultation09/11/2020 11:20:00
The Northern Ireland Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on a Bill of Rights has launched its public consultation on whether there should be a Bill of Rights here and which rights such a Bill would include.
£700 million Cost Overruns Mar Key infrastructure Projects22/10/2020 16:15:00
The Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee has published its wide-ranging inquiry report into Major Capital Projects.
Education Committee Publishes Report on Post-Primary Transfer Survey20/10/2020 11:15:00
The Assembly’s Education Committee yesterday published a report on its recent post-primary transfer survey.
Assembly Committee meets House of Lords EU Environment Sub Committee to discuss concerns around Internal Market Bill07/10/2020 13:43:00
The Assembly’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee met the House of Lords EU Environment Sub Committee yesterday (6 October) to discuss a range of issues in relation to the Internal Market Bill and the operation of the Protocol.
Northern Ireland Assembly Commission Nominates New Assembly Commissioner for Standards03/09/2020 14:15:00
The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (the Assembly Commission) has nominated Dr Melissa McCullough for appointment as the new Assembly Commissioner for Standards.
Speaker Marks the Death of John Hume04/08/2020 12:20:00
The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Alex Maskey MLA, yesterday expressed his sympathies on the passing of John Hume.