Spending at State education authority to be investigated

Concerns raised by C&AG audit of Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board

Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton:  has appointed an external investigator to examine the ETB’s functions into “public procurement, usage and disposal of assets and propriety matters”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton: has appointed an external investigator to examine the ETB’s functions into “public procurement, usage and disposal of assets and propriety matters”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The Department of Education has commissioned an investigation into concerns raised by auditors over governance and potential conflicts of interest in relation to spending by an education authority in the Kildare and Wicklow area.

An audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) into accounts for Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (ETB) flagged a series of issues relating to the delivery of building projects, rental properties and the use of a pool of vehicles.

The local board is responsible for running further education and training courses in both counties, as well as a number of primary and secondary schools.

In a statement, the department said Minister for Education Richard Bruton has appointed an external investigator to examine the ETB’s functions into “public procurement, usage and disposal of assets and propriety matters”.

The investigator will be former president of Sligo Institute of Technology Richard Thorn.

Correspondence

The department confirmed the action was taken following issues raised in an audit by the C&AG and subsequent correspondence between the department and the ETB.

Kildare and Wicklow ETB was unavailable for comment on Wednesday, while board members who were contacted declined to comment.

Mr Thorn has been tasked with identifying any “lacunae, inconsistencies or insufficient clarity” in the responses provided by the ETB in relation to a number of issues.

They include the delegation of functions to ensure a conflict of interest did not occur regarding to procurement, asset disposal or leasing that concerned companies identified in the C&AG’s audit.

Another area of focus will be access and usage of an ETB-rented property by a company, including the origin of this arrangement, rent level, payments in respect of works carried out and the timeliness of invoicing for rent and utilities due.

The operation and use of pool vehicles and the business case for this will also feature in the investigation, as will the circumstances surrounding the sale of a motor vehicle.

It is envisaged that the investigation will be completed in the first quarter of of 2018.