Irish shared service project’s delivery time and cost set to double, auditor finds

By on 12/10/2020
Auditor-general: the design and build of the system “has turned out to be significantly more challenging than originally envisaged". (Photo courtesy pikrepo.com).

A financial management system being developed for Ireland’s civil service is expected to be delivered four years late and at well over twice the projected budget, the government’s auditor general has said.

The Financial Management Shared Services (FMSS) project aims to replace 31 financial management and reporting systems, in use across 48 government departments and agencies, with a single system.   

The project, which received government approval in January 2016, was expected to be completed in June of this year. However, last month the government approved a new extended timeline for the development of the FMSS, running to 2025.

According to a new report from the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the design and build of the system “has turned out to be significantly more challenging than originally envisaged. As a result, the project is very significantly behind the original schedule, and costs are likely to be very significantly in excess of the amount projected”.

At the time of approval in 2016, the project was expected to cost €47.4m (US$56m) excluding VAT. Now, the report says, costs have spiralled to a total estimated cost of €115m (US$135m) inclusive of VAT.

Disputes and delay

The lion’s share of the work is being undertaken by a ‘system implementation partner’, which signed a fixed price contract worth €30.4m (US$36m) in 2016. However, the auditor general’s investigation found that disputes had arisen between the National Shared Services Office (NSSO), which is overseeing the project, and the partner. As a result, work was paused in July 2018.

According to RTÉ, a review has since been completed and a revised design specification prepared.

“The NSSO is currently negotiating with the system implementation partner with a view to agreeing a revised plan for remobilisation and deployment of the system to the first wave of public sector bodies,” the report says.  

It adds that some of the additional expenditure related to reviewing and amending the system design and was “potentially avoidable”.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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