The PAC’s report into Northern Ireland Water has to be one of the most comprehensive pieces of research, not only into a publicly owned utility, but into an insider government culture that brooks no dissent and treats whistleblowers with contempt. There is more than enough to keep Slugger going for the next fortnight, and yet beyond this excellent summation of the story by Sam McBride at the News Letter, the press have, by and large, let it slide.
However, as one sharp-eyed reader notes, it is not quite as comprehensive as it might have been:
There were 75 procurement failures totalling £45.9 million between 2005 and 2010. However, 41 of those contracts originated during NI Water’s period within the department when it was known as Water Service.
Despite the comprehensive nature of the committee’s report, we don’t have an answer to this, but it’s a question well worth asking anyway. If the majority of these breaches originate when NI Water was the Water Service, what were the relative values of each set of contracts?
In other words, has Mr Murphy’s Deparment been wasting everybody’s time (and taxpayer’s money) investigating a problem that was actively being improved by the very Board he summarily sacked?
As a footnote, and just to keep things in perspective, these figures also suggests that NI Water have a 95-97% compliance rate on procurement, which if not perfect is significantly better than some other public sector targets we could mention.