CIT staff ‘flouted expenses policies’

Staff at Cork Institute of Technology flouted college policies on expenses, a probe into 175 allegations made by a whistleblower has found.

Auditors at KPMG also found CIT broke procurement policies when it spent €20,000 on two staff portraits. CIT subsequently spent over €2,000 framing the paintings.

A redacted report into the allegations, seen by the Irish Examiner, has been submitted to the Department of Education.

The KPMG review took part in two phases. The first phase narrowed 175 of the whistleblower’s allegations down to 55 which it deemed necessary for further review in phase two of the investigation probe. The second phaseof the review identified two breaches of CIT policy.

Auditors sampled 23 expense claims submitted by staff and within these noted “several issues which are in contravention on the Travel and Expenses Policy of CIT”. It found three instances where the staff member submitting a claim was also responsible for approving the expenses, one instance where an expense limit was exceeded, and an instance where the number of people in attendance at an event was not recorded.

It also found an example of children’s meals being claimed. The whistleblower had claimed there were instances where staff declared a larger attendance at meals than the number of people present, sothat that the bill for the extra numbers not in attendance could be used to buy alcohol.

KPMG found many of the allegations against the college CIT are repeated throughout the whistleblower’s report, and thatother allegations provided “insufficient detail to allow for a robust review”.

In a statement, CIT said: “On foot of anonymous correspondence submitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General, CIT’s Audit Committee engaged KPMG as independent consultants to investigate and report upon the allegations contained in the anonymous correspondence. KPMG established that the vast majority of the allegations were baseless and unfounded and the Comptroller and Auditor General has been informed accordingly.”

The audit also found CIT the college breached its own procurement policy when it spent €22,214 on portraits of its president, Brendan Murphy, and Paddy Caffrey, former governing body chairman. The paintingworks were commissioned in 2007 and created by Irish artist Mick O’Dea, who was paid €20,000. CIT further spent €2,214 framing the portraits.

In a written reply, CIT denied the men travelled abroad to sit for the portraits, and provided one expense claim for the sitting showing one of the men went to Dublinfor the portrait sitting.

CIT’s procurement policy states those commissioning the portraits should have sought at least five different quotationsfor the works given the cost involved. KPMG did not note any internal budgetary review regarding the commission of the paintings.

CIT officials are to appear before the Public Accounts Committee in the autumn. PAC chair John McGuinness has previously criticised the redacted nature of the report submitted to the Department of Education.


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