News Irish News

Sunday 24 September 2017

FAS probe still not completed despite costs of €60,000

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

AN independent inquiry launched 10 months ago into the conduct of FAS staff is still not complete and has cost over €60,000 to date, documents obtained by the Irish Independent reveal.

Management consultant Ignatius Lynam has been paid over €1,200 each day he has worked on the inquiry, which is examining allegations against eight current FAS employees and six former staff members.

The scandal-prone training agency's former head of corporate affairs, Greg Craig, is among those being investigated.

Records obtained by the Irish Independent reveal how the probe, which is mainly focussed on the role of staff allegedly responsible for problems in the agency's corporate affairs, procurement and finance sections, has proceeded at a slow pace.

Invoices submitted by Mr Lynam's firm, LMCS Management Consultants, show the inquiry was convened on just 50 days between February and July.

In that time, FAS was invoiced for €61,275, including VAT, for Athlone-based Mr Lynam's services. The records were released under freedom of information rules after the Office of the Information Commissioner ruled their contents could be published in the public interest.

FAS last night refused to say when the investigation would be complete or whether any interim findings had been made.

Complaints

A spokeswoman said: "FAS is not in a position to comment as this investigation is ongoing." FAS had previously said Mr Lynam's fees were "well within the norm for this type of work". Mr Lynam declined to comment.

Sources familiar with the inquiry say it is unlikely to be completed until the New Year.

Mr Lynam was recruited by FAS to independently investigate complaints against staff arising from 22 internal audit reports.

The reports found staff did not do their jobs properly, by failing to implement spending controls or blow the whistle when thresholds were breached.

Corporate affairs staff frequently ignored the agency's designated travel agent to book expensive flights and hotels.

In a number of cases large payments for goods and services were split into smaller amounts, so they avoided scrutiny from the FAS board.

Mr Lynam's inquiry could lead to recommendations of disciplinary action, up to and including dismissals, if allegations of wrongdoing are upheld.

FAS insiders say Mr Lynam's inquiry has been prolonged by a number of staff members strongly fighting their corners.

To date, no FAS staff member has faced the sack for improper conduct, despite a series of spending and procurement scandals over the past two years.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News