OFMdFM: “as open and transparent as possible”

After much foot-dragging, the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers have released the cost [to date – Ed] of their 12-day March junket trip to Brazil and the USA to “Develop and promote political, investment, trade, university and tourism links” – an eye-watering £155,509.  As Mark Devenport tweeted

It’s difficult to answer the ‘value-for-money’ question in the absence of specific targets, or directly related outcomes.  Whether the spending itself was lavish may be another matter…

The first OFMDFM “biannual” report covers the period from April 2012 to March 2013 [pdf file] and includes trips by NI junior Ministers to Brussels as well as an OFMDFM trip to Texas in February, another to the United Arab Emirates and India in April last year, and China in November.  Total cost – including flights, transport, and other costs including accommodation – £357,042.

For the March trip to the Americas the costs are broken down, somewhat, as follows:

Delegation – First Minister, deputy First Minister, 2 Private Secretaries, 2 Special Advisers, 2 Press Officers, and Photographer(contracted)

Flights – £109,892 (9 x 8 flights)

Transport – £6,790 (invoices received to date)

Other costs including accomodation – £38,827

Total cost – £155,509

For the 6-day trip to China in November last year

Delegation – First Minister, deputy First Minister, Junior Minister Bell, 2 Private Secretaries, 2 Special Advisers, 2 Press Officers, and Photographer(contracted)

Flights – £57,814 (10 x 5 flights)

Transport – £4,404

Other costs including accomodation – £19,800

Total cost – £82,018

Well see if any economies are made on their next trip to China…

For the 5-day trip to the United Arab Emirates and India in April last year

Delegation – First Minister, deputy First Minister, 2 Private Secretaries, 2 Special Advisers, 1 Press Officer, and Photographer(contracted)

Flights – £36,122 (8 x 6 flights)

Other costs including accomodation – £7,704

Total cost – £43,826

And the 8-day trip to Texas in February

Delegation – First Minister, deputy First Minister, 2 Private Secretaries, 2 Special Advisers

Flights – £49,476 (6 x 6 flights)

Transport – £3,352

Other costs including accomodation – £6,670

Total cost – £59,498

On some of those trips, United Arab Emirates, India, Shanghai and Hong Kong, other NI Executive Ministers will also have incurred costs.

Almost forgot, the post title is just a reminder to the First and deputy First Ministers of something they said in 2009…

Peter Robinson said: “A principle of good governance is that it should be as open and transparent as possible, and I believe that our commitment to that principle is demonstrated in practical terms by the solid performance of our Departments in responding to the steady stream of requests for information.”

Complementing the comments of the First Minister, Mr McGuinness also expressed his satisfaction that Departments here had performed consistently well in responding to requests over the last four years.

Mr McGuinness said: ‘Freedom of Information, openness and transparency are central to the democratic process. I am pleased that all our Departments continue to recognise this and meet the need to deliver timely information’.

Adds They say that travel broadens the mind. Not much evidence of that here

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  • Pete Baker

    Almost forgot, the post title is just a reminder to the First and deputy FIrst Ministers of something they said in 2009…

    Peter Robinson said: “A principle of good governance is that it should be as open and transparent as possible, and I believe that our commitment to that principle is demonstrated in practical terms by the solid performance of our Departments in responding to the steady stream of requests for information.”

    Complementing the comments of the First Minister, Mr McGuinness also expressed his satisfaction that Departments here had performed consistently well in responding to requests over the last four years.

    Mr McGuinness said: ‘Freedom of Information, openness and transparency are central to the democratic process. I am pleased that all our Departments continue to recognise this and meet the need to deliver timely information’.

  • aquifer

    One company comes or a decent collaborative project and it is all paid for many times over.

    If our politicians begin to see how small their problems really are, priceless.

    I have no problem seeing money spent on politics.

    Better having them working for our money than for somebody else’s.

  • Pete Baker

    Adds They say that travel broadens the mind. Not much evidence of that here

  • Pete Baker

    aquifer

    As I mentioned

    It’s difficult to answer the ‘value-for-money’ question in the absence of specific targets, or directly related outcomes. Whether the spending itself was lavish may be another matter…