Monday 11 December 2017

FAS 'failed to get value for money' on scheme

Katherine Donnelly

FAS has been accused of failing to get value for money for a €30m back-to-work scheme that had no measures to track the progress of participants.

The state training authority was criticised yesterday for failing to query how those on the scheme fared -- particularly given that FAS has considerable expertise in that area.

FAS was part of a steering group set up by the Department of Education to oversee the Labour Market Activation Fund (LMAF). The scheme, run by the Department of Education in 2010, was targeted mainly at jobless people with low qualifications.


But consultants paid €52,000 to evaluate the scheme discovered there was no record of how half of 10,000 who completed a training course fared.

PA Consulting described the absence of procedures for measuring results as a weakness -- and it means there is no way of working out whether the scheme offered value for money.

The lack of accountability has been taken up by the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is seeking answers from FAS and the department.

PAC chairman John McGuinness said while FAS was not involved in providing any of the courses, it had a key function on the steering group.

The training authority would have been expected to bring its experience in running back-to-work programmes, and measuring the outcomes, to bear in its contribution to the group.


Mr McGuinness has challenged FAS director general Paul O'Toole to explain why that didn't happen.

He raised the matter with Mr O'Toole and officials of the Department of Education after the Irish Independent highlighted the information gap earlier this week.

Mr McGuinness said: "It is clear that they didn't have a procedure in place for collecting data and in that respect they didn't get value for money.

"FAS would be well used to collecting such data and they didn't translate the experience of doing that to the department," he said.

"So, there is a huge weakness in terms of each of them talking to each other and the obligation they have to get value for money."

The committee has asked FAS and the department to report back to them.

A spokesman for the department said that the findings of the report would inform any future such labour market initiatives.

Irish Independent

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