Public Sector Economics: Government policy and programme evaluation, reviews of the performance of state companies, case making to Government on behalf of private enterprises, local and community groups and trade associations.

Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) and Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA):Assistance to government departments, state agencies and NGOs in preparation of CBAs and MCAs of proposals for capital projects. (see note below).

Sectoral Studies: reviews of different sectors of the economy including analysis of trends in employment, productivity, investment and structures.

Economic and Social Research: monitoring of macro-economic trends, and trends in particular industries, preparation of studies on economic and social issues.

Competition and Regulation: provision of services to companies actually or potentially engaged in litigation, particularly in relation to competition law. Services include market research, assessment of market shares, evaluation of contestability of markets and preparation and organisation of documentation. Also, work for public authorities in relation to regulatory decision making.

Market Research and Marketing: studies of particular products and services and development of marketing plans and strategies.

A Note on DPER, PSC, CBA, MCA, etc.

A lot of Dorgan Associates’ work is in the area of Cost Benefit Analysis. An elaboration of some aspects of CBA is pertinent.

The Public Spending Code (PSC) promulgated by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) requires government departments and agencies to formally evaluate proposals for capital expenditure before submitting them for funding. Projects costing €20 million or more are to be subject to Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) while those between €5 million and €20 million are to be subject to a Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA).

While it might seem from this that a CBA is just a more exacting form of analysis than an MCA in fact they are quite different. An MCA is a method of evaluating alternative options for achieving a given object while a CBA evaluates the economic viability of a project.

MCA is a useful methodology where options involve judgements about matters which can’t easily be quantified (e.g. the environment, amenities, scenery, historical sites) and which are likely to be a matter of debate among stakeholders. It involves some form of opinion survey among stakeholders. A troublesome practical reality is that many capital projects are formulated with no real alternative: either they go ahead or they don’t.

CBA involves calculations of the economic impacts, positive and negative of a project whether these occur to the project itself (e.g. gate receipts at an interpretive centre) or the wider economy (e.g. tourism expenditure in local hotels). It also involves adjustments to costs, notably manpower. DPER also requires all public funds to bear a premium of 30% thus raising the threshold for projects relying on government finance.

Dorgan Associates’ advice to clients is to avoid MCAs if possible and apply a CBA. Although CBAs have exacting data requirements they can be implemented even for small projects. They are also easier administratively, and less time consuming than MCAs which typically rely on consultation with stakeholders. They are also more cogent than MCAs in that they determine if a project is good or bad, not just whether it is better or worse than the alternatives.