Costs associated with the RHI Inquiry
Information Standards Freedom of Information Response
Our Ref: FoI 20-19
08 August 2019
Freedom of Information Act 2000
I can confirm that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (“the Assembly Commission”) holds information relevant to your request of 12 June 2019. In your request you asked for the following information:
“Under the Freedom of Information Act, please provide me with the following information:
The total expenditure by the Assembly on the RHI Inquiry to date, made up of legal costs, civil servants' time, etc., to respond to questions from the public inquiry or any other costs as a direct result of the inquiry having been established.
Clarification of the information you require was sought on 21June 2019 as follows:
“Please clarify if the information you require also relates to costs reimbursed to the Assembly Commission by the RHI Inquiry”
Your response of 9 July 2019 confirmed you require costs reimbursed to the Assembly Commission by the RHI Inquiry.
Please find information relevant to your request at Appendix A.
If you feel that the information we have provided does not meet your request fully, please contact this office as soon as possible. You have the right to request a formal review by the Assembly Commission and if you wish to do so, please write to me at the above address.
If after such an internal review you are still unhappy with the response, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF who will undertake an independent review.
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above.
Information Standards and Data Protection Officer
The cost of adjustments to the Senate Chamber to accommodate the RHI Inquiry, and to reinstate it afterwards, amounted to £65,733.32. This work was conducted through existing Assembly Commission contracting arrangements, paid for initially by the Assembly Commission and reimbursed in full by the RHI Inquiry.
External legal fees and disbursements related to the RHI Inquiry: £681.33
The information held in relation to the Assembly Commission staff time spent as a direct result of the RHI Inquiry being established is as follows:
4 Assembly Commission staff are temporarily redeployed to the RHI Inquiry.
29 (27.4 FTE) Hansard staff provided services to the RHI Inquiry over 13 months.
5 Ushering staff provided services to the RHI Inquiry over 13 months.
The information held in relation to the Assembly Commission staff time spent responding to questions from the RHI Inquiry is as follows:
Recorded staff time spent in relation to the RHI Inquiry is 63 days.
No other information is held in the Assembly Secretariat in relation to time spent responding to questions.
In order to assist the RHI Inquiry, including keeping costs of the RHI Inquiry to a minimum, the Assembly Commission agreed that the RHI Inquiry proceedings could be held in Parliament Buildings. Key services required by the RHI Inquiry were broadcasting and web streaming of the proceedings. From an operational perspective, bringing in an external provider to operate the Assembly’s complex and business critical broadcasting and web streaming equipment presented a significant risk. The Assembly Commission therefore agreed to vary the existing broadcasting and web streaming contracts to facilitate this service requirement using the Assembly broadcaster. As these contracts were already in place, there was no additional cost to the Assembly Commission in providing this support to the RHI Inquiry. Any additional services required by the RHI Inquiry, but not covered by the existing contracts, and which did incur costs e.g. as a result of additional technical requirements and/or personnel, were borne by the RHI Inquiry.