Alarm was raised in 2006 about FAS training programmes
Published 08/11/2010 | 05:00
ALARMS were raised in the Department of Enterprise about multi-million euro FAS training programmes as far back as 2006, new documents reveal.
One senior official was so concerned about the need for more rigorous checks and balances in schemes such as the Competency Development Programme (CDP) that he wrote a hard-hitting letter for the then-Enterprise Minister Micheal Martin to issue.
In January 2007, that letter was forwarded to another senior official but was never submitted to the minister for his signature and was never issued.
Fas has recently been engulfed in a series of scandals over how it spent and monitored its annual €1bn budget.
The draft letter, penned by an official overseeing the CDP and addressed to FAS chairman Peter McLoone, raised concerns about the "persistent failure to provide me with requested information on programmes for training workers".
"Despite repeated attempts on my part and that of my department to obtain such, I have to date received little information on what is happening here," the unsent letter stated.
"The fact that in excess of €1bn in such public funding is being voted to FAS renders my responsibilities in this regard progressively more onerous."
The CDP paid out €120m-plus to employers to upskill staff between 2003 and 2009.
The programme provided funding to employers' groups, unions and private businesses to upgrade the skills of 123,000 workers in private companies.
But opposition parties have questioned why the money was not being spent on helping people who were on the dole or educationally disadvantaged.
In July of this year, secretary general of the Department of Enterprise Sean Gorman told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) no one in his department proposed to "stop, reduce or increase the scheme's allocation".
Asked if concerns were expressed in the department about the policy being pursued, Mr Gorman said there were "none expressed to me".
But the draft letter and other documents exchanged between officials in 2006 suggest that, unbeknown to Mr Gorman, concerns had been raised.
Labour's Roisin Shortall last night said she would raise the draft letter when Mr Gorman appeared before the PAC again later this month.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said the documents were "internal correspondence".