Fás to strengthen audit role


The board of the State training agency Fás said it will strengthen its internal audit function and said it is determined to place all matters of concern about past practices into the public domain.

It issued a statement following a meeting with Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Mary Coughlan to discuss the controversy over expenses paid to some senior executives at the organisation.

In a statement today, the Fás board said it met on Friday night “to discuss the recent revelations concerning practices in the organisation’s corporate affairs division”.

“The board was fully briefed on the organisation’s interaction with the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and endorsed a number of actions designed to steer the organisation towards a position where it can fulfil its mandate in these difficult economic times.”

Earlier on Friday, the chairman of Fás Peter McLoone, and a number of members of the board met the Tánaiste and “briefed her fully on the steps the board intends to take to deal with the recent revelations”, the statement added.

“The board intends to strengthen the internal audit function within Fás, and will consider the use of external support and assistance in the coming period as required.

“This will help accelerate the audit work already underway in the corporate affairs area, and will also help the organisation interface with the Comptroller and Auditor General as soon as he begins his examination of the effectiveness of the management and control systems in Fás.”

It said the examination would begin as soon as the Public Accounts Committee completed its current hearings.

“The board assured the Tánaiste that although many of these events had occurred prior to the current board taking office in February 2006, they are determined to place all matters of concern about past practice in the public domain.

“The board agreed a full examination of past practices is required to ensure the organisation can move forward with best-practice corporate governance procedures in place.”

Fás would then be able to play “its vital role in training and upskilling key segments of the workforce through the current challenging economic times”, the board said.

“Our staff throughout the country are highly dedicated and motivated people committed to our mission.

"We once again acknowledge their dedication and commitment and we asssure them that the board is determined to provide the standard of strategic direction and management practices that they deserve.”

Fás director general Rody Molloy resigned last Tuesday after it emerged some €640,000 in expenses had been paid to senior executives, including himself, in the course of promoting the body’s Science Challenge programme in the US over a four-year period.

He was scheduled to appear before the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, but did not do so.

Committee chairman Bernard Allen said he hoped Mr Molloy would appear next week to answer questions.