Press Release

Statement from the Assembly Public Accounts Committee

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Tuesday, 07 September 2010

Reference: PAC 01/10/11

The Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee, Paul Maskey MLA, today detailed the outcome of three extraordinary Committee meetings held to address the issues arising from its inquiry into procurement governance at NI Water.

He said: “The Committee has asked the Comptroller and Auditor General to go into the company to examine the procurement concerns raised in recent internal audit reports and he has agreed.

“The Committee further agreed the way it intends to proceed with the inquiry while also addressing its forward work plan for the autumn.”

The Committee will continue to convene extra meetings as required to address fully the considerable weight of evidence it has received in the course of its inquiry.

The Committee also agreed to continue to work and liaise closely with the Committee for Regional Development.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Public Accounts Committee reconvened during the Assembly recess, on 24 August.

2. Mr Maskey and Deputy Chairperson Roy Beggs called for the Committee to meet “as soon as possible” after learning of the suspension of its witness, then DRD Accounting Officer Paul Priestly, and conferring with the Committee for Regional Development Chairpersons.

3. The Committee has subsequently had two further extraordinary meetings to give the inquiry its full attention.

4. At these meetings, the Public Accounts Committee considered new evidence and established the parameters of the NICS investigation, before agreeing its next steps.

5. Standing Orders under Section 60(3) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 have provided for the establishment of the Public Accounts Committee (the Committee). The statutory function of the Committee is to consider accounts and reports on accounts laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly. These are compiled and laid by the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland (C&AG), head of the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

6. The C&AG is empowered to investigate any area of expenditure and has a statutory right of access to all files and papers in Departments and public bodies.

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