* Four big outside firms looking into Vatican departments
* Vatican communications structure seen as bloated
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY, Dec 19 The Vatican has hired two
big international consulting firms to improve financial
accounting procedures and streamline media operations, its
latest bid to clean up often murky finances and improve
efficiency by cutting through red tape.
Pope Francis has already set up three commissions to advise
him on what to do with the troubled Vatican bank, how to reform
the administration and to address sexual abuse of children, a
scandal that tainted his predecessor Benedict XVI's incumbency.
The Vatican said on Thursday it had hired KPMG, which
provides audit, tax and advisory services to companies, to
"align the accounting procedures of all departments of the Holy
See to meet international standards."
Four major outside business consulting or auditing companies
have now been hired by the Vatican, which in the past mostly
policed itself, a practice which led to a series of scandals.
KPMG won the bid for the contract, awarded by an
international commission of seven lay experts formed by the pope
in July to help him overhaul the Holy See and move on from the
damaging mistakes under Benedict.
The commission is tasked with drafting reforms of the Holy
See's institutions to simplify how they work, improve the
management of finances and improve transparency in the
purchasing of good and services.
Private documents leaked to Italian media last year by
Benedict's butler alleged corruption in the Vatican, with
contracts given at inflated prices to Italian companies with
connections in the Vatican.
A separate, five-member commission is advising the pope on
what to do with the Vatican bank, which has been embroiled in
series of scandals in past decades. Francis has not ruled out
closing the bank altogether if it cannot be reformed.
The Vatican also said international management consultancy
company McKinsey had been hired to come up with a plan to make
its communications "more functional, efficient and modern."
The Vatican has six distinct communications departments - a
press office, television, radio, newspaper, an internet office
and a communications council, which exercises an academic and
They have been known to not communicate or cooperate with
each other and sometimes have appeared to be in competition. In
the past, one department has published important information
without telling the others.
The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, is 150 years
old, and its editor is trying to modernise it to help shed its
drab and staid image.
Vatican Radio, which broadcasts in 40 languages, takes up a
big chunk of the Vatican's budget and some officials have
questioned whether such a big structure is necessary in the
Some of the languages the radio uses are holdovers from the
period when it, like Radio Free Europe, was one of the few
sources of independent information in the communist East bloc.
The Promontory Financial Group and Ernst and Young are
already looking into other Vatican departments.