Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 09 November, 2004
Written Answers. - Public Private Partnerships.
Ms Enright Ms Enright
352. Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if an evaluation has been carried out on the experience of the five post-primary schools built under public-private partnerships; her own assessment on its success or otherwise to date; if problems have been experienced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28093/04]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin: My Department’s interest in participating in the Government’s pilot programme arose pri marily for four reasons: to take schools-colleges principals and managers away from running buildings and thereby allow them concentrate on their core educational-management functions; to test value for money of school-college provision over a longer period than construction; to get new ideas on school and college design through an output-based approach; and to see better usage of school-college buildings outside of school hours. These objectives are now being analysed in the operation phase of the project and it is the intention to carry out a full evaluation of all aspects of the process following a suitable timeframe. In addition, the Comptroller and Auditor General recognised in his recent report on the project that “ultimately, the full value for money represented by the grouped school project will be determined over the 25-year life cycle of the project”.
Difficulties arose regarding the supply of some equipment to the schools. However, these have been dealt with by my Department in consultation with the operator. Other smaller issues arose with individual schools regarding, for example, the installation of IT software or the interpretation of some terms in the contract and these were also resolved. My Department receives a monthly report of any issues raised in each of the schools that allows us to monitor the operation phase carefully.
The first pilot programme has highlighted two issues, first, the speed of delivery and, second, the quality of the school buildings. In his report, the Comptroller and Auditor General highlighted the fact that the schools were constructed far more quickly than under traditional procurement. The entire process, from seeking expressions of interest to hand over of the schools, took a total of two and a half years.
As the PPP contract is for 25 years the operator, Jarvis, takes a stake in the whole-life cycle of the building by aligning responsibility for operation and maintenance with responsibility for design and construction. Therefore, the operator adopted a “spend to save” policy. In essence this means that the quality of materials and construction are high to militate against future depreciation and to minimise maintenance and operational costs. The principle of everything works applies under the PPP process. Classrooms, laboratories, heating and lighting all have to be available every day during the lifetime of the project to avoid deductions to the operator’s unitary payment. Given the experience and knowledge gained by my Department on the pilot projects, it is my intention to procure further school building projects using the PPP process.
Dáil Éireann 592 Written Answers. Public Private Partnerships.