THE head of the Dáil public accounts committee has claimed a series of recommendations from an interim report into the Fás expenses scandal are at risk of being “ignored” and “left on the shelf”.
Speaking after the full extent of Fás director Gregory Craig’s taxpayer-funded personal expense claims — which totalled €400,000 in flights, dinners and hotel rooms between 2001 and 2008 — were revealed through the Freedom of Information Act, committee chair Bernard Allen said the cabinet was failing to act on the group’s February report into inappropriate spending at the state training body.
Due to the concerns raised last autumn over the massive expenses of former Fás chief Rody Molloy and other senior training body members, the committee has been charged with examining the specific system-wide flaws which allowed the taxpayer-funded splurges.
Included in the committee’s interim report, published in February, were claims that the Fás board failed to meet its corporate governance responsibilities; had an “inadequate oversight” of its corporate affairs division which had been led by Gregory Craig; and that the integrity of the public procurement process in the state body was repeatedly undermined, exposing the taxpayer to unnecessary financial risk.
The report also warned there was a culture within the Fás corporate affairs division which allowed value-for-money measures to be bypassed. It stated that members of the state body did not abide by public sector policy on foreign travel with hundreds of thousands of euro wasted on luxury foreign flights despite officials having no entitlement to claim them as expenses.
However, Mr Allen said that more than two months after the concerns were made public little action has been taken to resolve the situation.
“We made a number of recommendations, but I believe they have been ignored. In the current economic situation any way to make sure expenditure is done properly should be acted on immediately.
“It is clear that large amounts of taxpayers money was not spent effectively. The least we expected was action immediately on this,” he said.
As a result of the concerns raised late last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) is currently carrying out a further investigation into events at the state body.
This inquiry is expected to be concluded by early June, with a final report by the public accounts committee due in the autumn.
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