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Pointless report from audit office is waste of money

By Liam Clarke

Published 16/12/2011

The Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) is tendering for 'financial management and consultancy services' - applications close next week.

This Scrooge-like body had better get best value, because there will be no sympathy if it doesn't. Back in June, NIAO told us Stormont departments were paying too much on consultants - perhaps in a misguided attempt to guard against NIAO scrutiny.

Last month, we heard that top medical salaries had increased, although they are still higher across the border.

In fact, I can't recall many instances in which the audit office found money was properly spent and accounted for.

The NIAO moans about everything; it demands more precautionary red tape on tendering procedures and then finds the cost of red tape exorbitant.

The latest target is the Titanic Signature project which, we are told, is more expensive than an alternative project put forward by the Odyssey Trust, which was rejected.

We knew that at the tendering stage and reminding us now doesn't help.

It is too late to knock down one project and build another. The audit office also worries that enough people won't visit the iconic building to make it worthwhile.

Was it worth paying for this report, now that the project is nearly finished and we have to try and make a go of it anyway?

No: that is one for the consultants.

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