Susi contractor to deal with property tax queries
on 22/03/2013 00:00:00
Abtran operates the Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi) helpdesk. As recently as last month, about 7,000 students were still waiting for their fees and grants to be paid.
A review has already been launched into the failings of the Susi system, which is run by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee.
Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fáil's education spokesman, has queried why Abtran is now working on property tax services.
"I would ask for clarity from the Government as to whether or not the experience of Susi and how it operated, and the role of Abtran in that, was considered in relation to the handing out of additional contracts," he said.
The Donegal North East TD said there had been "very serious issues" with Susi and responsibility for that ultimately lay at the door of Education Minister Ruairi Quinn.
A Revenue spokesman said the introduction of the property tax would bring "exceptional temporary pressures at particular stages of its initial implementation" and it would be difficult to predict the level of contact that would arise. Having considered a number of options Revenue chose "a mix of external and internal resources".
"Complex matters that cannot be handled by the service provider are escalated to a team of Revenue staff," said the spokesman.
"The call management and reporting systems are monitored by Revenue and also the actual delivery of the service.
"The outsourcing of peak call handling in respect of the local property tax will ensure that skilled Revenue staff can continue to provide the necessary customer service to meet their long term, on-going demands and commitments in relation to the strategic priority of maintaining and improving levels of tax and duty compliance."
The spokesman said the Civil Service Arbitration Board had found that outsourcing this service was "entirely consistent with provisions of the national agreements on the provision of outsourced services" and was due to the "the specific and unusual need which has arisen in the context of the roll out of the new tax".