The single biggest payment occurred “through no fault of the HSE”, auditors said, and related to a retiree who availed of an early retirement scheme in 1988 and subsequently took up employment in another public service body. Under the terms of the scheme, the employee’s pension should have ceased and the original lump sum repaid. However this did not happen, resulting in an overpayment of €194,860.
Other overpayments included incorrect application of salary increases and monthly pension erroneously increased. In 12% of cases sampled, the overpayment was repaid in full, while in 46% of cases either the full or part of the payroll overpayment remains outstanding.
The auditor said it appeared that “ in some cases the lines of responsibility as to who is responsible for tracking, following up, and monitoring of the recoupment of payroll overpayments needs to be more clearly defined and agreed”.
In total 750 overpayments balances were listed on the 2014 HSE North West year-end report.
A separate audit of St Patrick’s Centre in Kilkenny, which provides residential, respite, and day services to people with intellectual disabilities, found inadequacies in reporting arrangements and monitoring of unsanctioned posts was “a major contributory factor” in overpayments to two staff totalling €40,000 between January 2011 and December 2013.
Concerns were also raised about governance structures, with auditors highlighting an instance where a former member of the HSE who resigned their post was contracted the same month to provide HR training and to chair the Staff Relations Group meetings at the agency.
“This service was not tendered for and no contract details or service arrangement document other than invoice documents were available for review”, the auditors said. Rates charged per day ranged from €850 for a full day to €425 for a half day, with an additional charge for mileage of €0.68 per km. Total payments in respect of the services provided by this individual amounted to €16,460 in 2014.