Unapproved allowances topped €1m
The country's biggest university, UCD, has been rapped on the knuckles for paying unapproved bonuses and allowances for several years.
Between October 2006 and September 2007 more than €1m was paid to senior staff. These unapproved allowances eventually ceased in April of last year.
But senior staff were not the only ones to benefit. In September last over 300 other salaried staff were also in receipt of allowances -- two-thirds got an average of an extra €100, but almost 100 staff were getting an average of €9,500 a year.
The audit, carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), could not find evidence that ministers had approved these payments, as required in the Universities Act.
A further 12 staff received bonus payments of €265,818 between 2005 and 2008 -- one person got €105,000 over that period.
UCD said these performance-related payments were part of their overall renumeration.
The report says the college had neither sought, nor received, sanction to apply the bonus payments.
The Department of Education was unaware of the scheme until the C&AG reported it to officials.
The report also discloses that not one of the 195 staff who started work in the academic year 2007/2008 began on the first point of the incremental scale.
The college said the starting salaries were negotiated at the time of appointment. Typical factors included relevant credentials, expertise and experience. But the report said that, in the absence of compelling reasons, the starting pay should be at the minimum of the scale.