The only good Quango is a dea… efficiently run, accountable and cost-effective one.

 From The News Letter, February this year:

As Stormont trims the health, education and water budgets, a leaked report has revealed some staggering facts about spending at a little known quango, reports political correspondent Sam McBride.

Yet new figures show that last year the quango spent just 11.6 per cent of its £1.8 million budget on ‘programmes’ aimed at children.

The majority went on essentially administrative costs such as advertising, PR, a costly city centre office and salaries, according to a leaked report.

The quango in question was, of course, the NICCY (Northern Ireland Commission for Children and Young People) and, as it so happens, this week there has been an announcement which should impact favourably on those percentages:

The Ministers recently visited Equality House in Belfast, currently occupied by the Equality Commission and the Older People’s Advocate. The Northern Ireland Commission for Children and Young People (NICCY) will move in during the Autumn followed subsequently by the Commission for Victims and Survivors.

The co-location of the Commissioners for Children and Young People; Victims and Survivors and for Older People is part of a shared services project which will save around £300,000 annually. The Office of the Older People’s Advocate, which will be replaced by a Commissioner in September, has already moved to the new premises. The move is part of an ongoing project, involving the four bodies and the Community Relations Council, which is also sponsored by OFMDFM.

 So more quangoists than you’ll be able to shake a stick at in Equality House but in the interests of cost (and quite possibly damage) limitation it makes definite sense to have all them corralled in the one building.

And, as it just so happens, one of my other favourites, the N.Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) has just published their post-Monica business strategy (pdf) for 2011-2012. As you’d expect, “capacity-builders” and “empowered stakeholders” abound but it’s their proposed budget which is, in light of The News Letter’s  exposé, most interesting:

 Staff Costs: 1,040,000 (64%)

Running Costs: 386,000 (23%)

Programme Costs: 135,000 (8%)

Other Costs: 64,000 (5%)

Total budget: 1,625,000

 They are spending even less on their actual programme costs in percentage terms than the NICCY were!

Now, obviously no one expects the good folk at the NIHRC to be facilitating capacity- building and what have you out of the goodness of their hearts and obviously it’s very difficult to run programmes without the required staff and experts but still… especially in the light of the forthcoming financing cuts at the Commission- are those kind of  ratios really justified?