HSE manager set up consultancy on career break
Former manager failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest
The HSE internal audit identified significant weakness and breaches of control procedures.
A former Health Service Executive manager who was paid €420,000 in consultancy fees by the HSE after going on career break failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest, an internal audit report has found.
The manager breached the explicit terms of the career break scheme “by establishing his own business in the State and by providing a substantial amount of his services back to his employer”, according to the auditors.
The report, obtained under freedom of information, expresses concern that the manager’s companies were awarded the vast majority of contracts by his former department while he was on his career break.
The manager, identified as Mr X, was human resources director in the former East Coast Area Health Board from September 2000 until he went on a career break “for domestic purposes” in January 2004.
Within two months of starting his career break he started two companies which received 76 per cent of all contracts awarded by the human resources unit in the East Coast area. After returning to work for a short period in 2009 he was given permission to retire on a retirement package that provided him with an additional 10 years’ service for pension purposes
Breaches of procedures
The audit identified significant weakness and breaches of control procedures, including:
A lack of arm’s-length transactions and non-declaration of potential conflicts of interest in the awarding of contracts by Mr X as a director of the health board
Non-compliance with procurement procedures by Mr X in awarding contacts to a company with whose principal he was connected
Breaches in the career break scheme terms by establishing two companies and providing services to his employer during his career break and while negotiating abolition of his office or a return to duty
Weaknesses in the application by the HSE of the ethics in public office requirements to Mr X and other officials who were employed in a year but not on payroll at the end of it.
The audit identified two instances where Mr X did not declare potential conflicts of interest. There was “no documentary evidence” he disclosed his connection to the principal of a company to which he had awarded contracts worth more than Stg£190,000 a year for two years.Mr X also breached financial procedures in relation to procurement where he was “conflicted”, the auditors said.
Mr X was furnished with a copy of the draft audit report and asked to comment. He rejected any suggestion there was “something untoward” in the fact that his company received HSE contracts while he was on career break.
He was on holiday yesterday and could not be reached for comment.