Thursday 23 November 2017

Safeguards 'were too weak' to prevent faked assessments

Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

FAS director general Paul O'Toole has admitted safeguards were not strong enough to prevent repeated irregularities in the marking of some of its training courses.

In correspondence with an official working on behalf of Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, Mr O'Toole acknowledged there had been failings which allowed a contracted training firm to repeatedly falsify assessments so that staff could pass exams.

In a carefully worded letter -- seen by the Irish Independent -- he said it was "already clear that the systems in place at the time did not mitigate the potential for such other issues to arise". Mr O'Toole said the systems had since been significantly strengthened, with instructions to staff that potential problems be brought to the attention of senior management immediately.

Mr O'Toole joined FAS from Tourism Ireland following the departure of disgraced former director general Rody Molloy.

He has had to deal with a host of problems.

The most serious issue at the moment is ensuring the integrity of FAS courses -- in particular those run by outside companies on behalf of the agency -- at a time of major unemployment.

Revelations of major irregularities in a small number of courses have raised fears over how widespread the problem is.

An internal email from Mr O'Toole reveals the problem may be wider than previously feared. Reviews of 257 courses, due for completion next month, will give him a fuller picture.

In the meantime, he has issued staff with a call to arms in a bid to repair the agency's battered reputation.

Irish Independent

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