The Countdown

In order to meet its contractual obligations the Department of Social Protection needs to issue very close to one Public Services Card every ten seconds between now and the end of the year.

Commercial Realities

The Government has a contract with a private provider to fulfil a requirement to issue three million cards and has already issued around two million, but is short of the number it is required to issue. It appears to be desperately trying to get them out the door, through means such as issuing cards to customers using their passport details from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Elaine Edwards, Irish Times, December 8th 2016

If three million cards haven’t been issued by the end of this year the taxpayer will have to pay for three million anyway. It’s in the contract.

Here are some Facetious Maths™ to give an impression of just how much frantic effort is being applied to this.

The Calculations

It is now week 34.

That gives us 19 weeks remaining in the year, including this week.

19 multiplied by 5 gives us 95 working days.

95 working days minus the October Bank Holiday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Eve gives us 90 working days.

Being generous I’m allowing for a full 8 hours of frenetic card issuing for each of those 90 days. So that’s 720 hours across the entire department.

From reporting this week it appears there are still 250,000 cards to be issued if the target of three million is to be met.

250,000 cards divided by 680 hours gives 347 cards per hour (rounded down to give a whole card number)

So 347 cards have to be issued every hour in order for the department to meet its target of 3 million by the end of the year.

Breaking that down even further, that’s 5.783 cards per minute.

Very close to one every ten seconds of departmental working time between now and the end of the year.