Privately procured guardian ad litem service would have lowest costs

Privately procured guardian ad litem service would have lowest costs

A privately procured guardian ad litem (GAL) service provided by a single company would be cheaper than an equivalent service run by the State, according to a report produced for ministers.

The 66-page report, published yesterday by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, presents point-in-time indicative costings based on five hypothetical models for the reform of the GAL service.

The existing GAL system was run at a cost of €14.1 million in 2015 and €15.2 million in 2016, with GALs being involved in just over half (53 per cent) of child care cases.

According to the report, the State could establish a GAL service providing GALs in 100 per cent of child care cases for between €10.51 million and €14.39 million.

However, it states that a single private GAL service provider appointed following a public procurement process could provide even further savings, with a cost estimate between €10.2 million and €14 million.

The report explains: “This was due to the reduced pension contributions costs outweighing the ‘reasonable profit’ costs. In the case of the upper estimate, the privately procured service could have been provided for €412,264 less than the State-run service with the same numbers of staff.”

It adds: “The actual magnitude of any potential saving (if any) which may be yielded from the above reforms to the GAL service would depend on a complex range of factors, some of which have been captured in this report. It was not envisaged that the cost estimates would act as the primary basis for policy decision-making.”

In a statement accompanying the report, the Department said: “The report was prepared during the early stages of policy development to inform the policy-making process, and does not recommend a specific course of action.

“Cost drivers that are likely to have changed since submission include: legal fees; salary scales; demographics; rent costs, and reasonable profit rates.”

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