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Sometime last week I heard on the radio a nasty little exchange between Alan Shatter of Fine Gael and Minister Martin Mansergh. It was about Euro 200K which had been spent on turning a car park at Leinster House into a lawn. At one point in defending the spending the Minister pointed out that the original estimate of 400K had been cut in half by the use of direct labour.

Now this is interesting on two fronts. Firstly, it is very rare to hear a FF spokesperson admit to an example of a saving achieved by the use of direct labour. Ideology demands that contracts and out-sourcing be cheaper. Secondly, the saving is enormous. I accept that direct labour is more efficient but surely not by 200K on 400K! I asked the Bord of Works and received a reply to the effect that the cheaper job was the complete project.

My next step will be to ask the name of the company which quoted a price 100% more expensive than the job actually cost?

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