FAS to pay investigator €1,000 a day for probe into 15 staff
FAS has appointed a €1,000-a-day independent investigator to probe the activities of up to 15 present and former employees amid allegations of misconduct, the Irish Independent has learned.
The move is part of attempts by the troubled state training agency to clean house after two years of controversy.
The investigations, by external management consultant Ignatius Lynam, could lead to disciplinary action against a number of people, up to and including dismissal, if allegations of wrongdoing are upheld.
Mr Lynam's appointment comes after 22 audit reports that raised serious questions about activities, over several years, in the agency's corporate affairs, procurement and finance sections.
His investigations are expected to continue throughout the summer.
Some of the audit reports found staff did not do their jobs properly, by failing to implement spending controls or to blow the whistle when spending thresholds were breached.
Some 15 people have been identified, and it is understood that at least 10 remain staff members.
Some have already been made aware of the allegations against them. Others have been informed they are under investigation, but will only learn of the full cases against them in the coming weeks.
All those being investigated will be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Informed sources said it was unclear how long the investigations would take to complete. No deadline has been set.
A number of staff involved have sought trade union representation and have indicated they will fight the allegations, the seriousness of which vary greatly.
Some staff are being accused of minor infractions, while others are facing more serious charges.
Mr Lynam's brief is to examine the failings highlighted in the audit reports, establish where responsibility lies and conclude whether disciplinary action is required.
Equally, he has been asked to exonerate anyone he finds does not have a case to answer.
The audits, which have not been made public in full, include findings that corporate affairs staff frequently ignored the agency's designated travel agent to book expensive flights and hotels.
Large payments to service providers were sometimes split so they would not have to be reported to the board. And it is understood that evidence was found of invoices submitted when no work had been done.
Mr Lynam, who runs LMCS Management Consultants in Athlone, said: "There isn't much that I can say about this."
FAS declined to comment on his fees, but said that they were "well within the norm for this type of work".