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Vehicle Standards

Report on NCTS Midterm Review
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30 July 2006

Mr. Martin Cullen, T.D., Minister for Transport today (30th July 2006) announced the outcome of the review of the National Car Testing Service (NCTS).

NCTS began operating in January 2000 in response to EU legislation which made a national car test (NCT) compulsory. It operates 43 National Car Test centres across Ireland under a ten-year contract awarded by the Government.

In April 2005, the Department of Transport commissioned business advisor PricewaterhouseCoopers, to manage an independent review of NCTS' performance at the halfway stage of its contract.  The review was to evaluate a number of areas including the quality of the service provided, the content of the test, and the location and number of test centres.

The review confirms that NCTS has met or exceeded the targets set down for the first five years of the contract.   Therefore, the Minister has decided that there is no case for radical change in the NCTS contract, which will continue until 2009.  However, the review team has made a number of recommendations and the Minister has indicated that these will be implemented as soon as is practicable.

Recommendations include provision of a new test centre at Inishowen, free retests for cars where defective tyres were the only cause of failure, free provision of registration plate stickers with relevant county name in Irish; relaxing the testing rigour in respect of registration plate lights and indicator lamps; and the introduction of an optional pre-payment system for internet bookings. The review team also recommended the creation of a technical advisory forum to include representatives of stakeholders and interested parties.

The overall assessment of the first 5 years of operation was that:

  • The service was provided under a Project Agreement that clearly set out the standards required of NCTS;
  • NCTS has met all of the key performance measures required under the Project Agreement. No financial performance adjustments have been applied; neither has the company incurred any rectification or default notices since 2002;
  • NCTS has, by and large, met all of the detailed performance measures against which its performance is regularly monitored.

The review found that the scope and content of the Irish NCT was in line with good international practice, and some aspects of testing were innovative, particularly the level of automation and technical solutions in a number of areas. There is also general support for the independence of the testing authority.

In terms of value for money, the review concluded that the cost of the service to motorists in Ireland was less than the European average. NCTS also compared favourably with the majority of EU states in respect of the cost of testing relative to the consumer price index (CPI).

The full report of the independent review is available to download below.