C&AG names public bodies that failed to file financial statements in 2018

Higher education sector features prominently in spending watchdog’s audit

In the case of DCU, three educational institutions were incorporated into the university, prompting a delay in filing accounts for the new entity. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

In the case of DCU, three educational institutions were incorporated into the university, prompting a delay in filing accounts for the new entity. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The State’s spending watchdog has identified eight public bodies which failed to file financial statements in 2018 for the previous year.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) conducted an audit of the 2017 financial statements of 285 public bodies and funds with an aggregate turnover of €230 billion.

Public sector bodies are required to present their financial statements for audit within two to three months of the end of their accounting period.

The C&AG’s report found eight accounts to be “in arrears” or not certified by the end of the following year. Five were in the higher education sector. They included University College Cork (UCC); Dublin City University (DCU); St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra; Waterford Institute of Technology; and the Institute of Technology Tralee.

The other public bodies failing to file timely financial statements were the Credit Union Restructuring Board, and Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board.

In the case of UCC, the watchdog said the university had come to an agreement with the Higher Education Authority about “how certain pension liabilities would be shared between both parties”.

However, it said the audit was unable to obtain satisfactory evidence to support the accounting treatment adopted by UCC in relation to that agreement, resulting in a delay.

Pension liabilities

The C&AG’s report suggests accounting for pension liabilities caused delays for several institutions.

In the case of DCU, three educational institutions – St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, the Mater Dei Institute of Education and the Church of Ireland College of Education – were incorporated into the university, prompting a delay in filing accounts for the consolidated entity.

DCU separately wrote to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee last year, explaining there had been a “major, once off” accounting issue which prevented it from filing its financial statements to the C&AG.