Northern Ireland

Department of Finance pays £10m for '£1m contract'

The Department of Finance ended up paying IT consultants 10 times the initial cost for a one-off project, it has emerged.

In its latest report the NI Audit Office found there were cost over-runs in 40% of the consultants contracts it examined.

It also found that out of 86 contracts it examined, 16 had not been competitively tendered.

This was in breach of civil services rules and guidance for good practice.

In one case, the Department of Finance, which is tasked with reducing waste, paid nearly £10m for an IT system that was supposed to cost just under £1m.

In 2008, the Audit Office reported that the use of external consultants had doubled over a five year period.

The amount spent on consultants peaked at £42m in the financial year 2006/7 but fell to nearly £20m in 2009/10.

The Audit Office has recommended that the public service should make business cases for future use of external consultants.

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