Monday 19 March 2018

€2.5m of FAS contracts had no board approval

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

ALMOST €2.5m worth of contracts were entered into by FAS without prior board approval in the final four years of Rody Molloy's reign as director general.

Senior FAS executives broke the rules at least nine times between 2005 and 2008 by signing off on lucrative contracts without first consulting the State training agency's board.

The projects included a television advertisement, made at a cost of €612,000, which has never been used. Some 12 contracts, worth a combined total of €2.3m, were also entered into without a proper tender process in the same period.

Details of the contracts are contained in a document released by the Comptroller & Auditor General, John Buckley. It reveals how spending authorisation limits were frequently ignored by the agency while Mr Molloy was in charge.

Spending of up to €250,000 could be approved by Mr Molloy. Sums above that level required board approval before they could be processed.

Lower threshold levels applied to less senior executives.

The FAS board was replaced last month following criticism of its members after the agency became embroiled in scandals over extravagant spending on foreign travel and breaches of procurement rules.

However, it is now clear that, on several occasions, executives at the agency simply didn't tell the board before spending huge sums.

The payments highlighted by Mr Buckley included one that was related to Opportunities 2008 jobs fair held at Croke Park.

Mr Molloy and an assistant director general signed a €640,000 contract with Croke Park even though they were not authorised to approve transactions at that level.

The payment was split in two, with a €260,000 deposit being paid without first being submitted to the board for approval. At a later date, the contract balance of €380,000 was sanctioned by the board.

The board had little option but to sanction the second payment as it would have proved extremely problematic to back out of the deal.

Other deals which were not brought to the board for approval when they should have been included:

  • €485,000 spent on the production and duplication of DVDs for jobs fairs;
  • a €458,000 advertising contract for a jobs fair in New York;
  • €352,000 forked out to advertise a jobs fair in Poland;
  • €107,000 spent on media consultancy;
  • another media consultancy contract worth €88,000;
  • €48,200 spent on a pilot risk assessment training programme and;
  • €28,000 forked out for public relations services for the Opportunities 2008 jobs fair.

In addition, the document outlines failures in the tender process in a dozen cases.

Mr Molloy has refused to comment on findings made by Mr Buckley or respond to correspondence from him.

The revelations come just days after a report by Mr Buckley outlined how executives were aware of overspending but this information was not given to the FAS board.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News