NUIG President Dr James Browne has agreed it was “unusual” that the School of Law paid €143,000 plus VAT for one consultancy firm for 22 months’ work.
Dr Browne was responding to queries by Galway West TD Catherine Connolly at the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, in relation to monies paid for professional services from consultancy, Results Through People Limited.
Deputy Connolly raised the issue, which was first reported in the Galway City Tribune following a Freedom of Information request.
This newspaper reported that the amount paid to the consultants excluded the applicable VAT rate, which would add a further €32,000 and bring the total cost of fees to about €175,000.
During the PAC session, Deputy Connolly said: “There is a belief on the ground that consultants are being used to an excessive degree in NUIG. Private consultants are being brought in for different things, including the law faculty.
“I have gleaned this from the local newspaper. The witnesses should tell me if I am wrong. The university has confirmed that the school of law has spent almost €180,000 on one consultancy firm for 22 months’ work. It is all set out in the local newspaper. Is that unusual? What was that for?”
In response, Dr Browne said: “It was unusual. Let me just think for a moment; I do not have these things off the top of my head. The School of Law was in the process of acquiring a senior administrator following the retirement of a prior holder of that post.
“As I understand it, the School of Law hired an individual to take on a role and that individual’s contract was extended. I am talking from memory here so I need to be very careful. Maybe I should not do this, but let me have a go at it in the interest of helping out the Deputy.
“My belief is that the contract was extended. It was payment to an individual for work service she provided to the School of Law over a two-year period.”