More than €3m overpaid to gardaí and civilian staff, audit finds

The internal audit found that 1,804 gardaí, civilian staff and pensioners had been overpaid €3.1m with some overpayments not recoupable
More than €3m overpaid to gardaí and civilian staff, audit finds

More than €3m has been overpaid to gardaí and civilian staff due to weaknesses in payroll controls, an internal garda audit has found. Stock image.

More than €3m has been overpaid to gardaí and civilian staff due to weaknesses in payroll controls, an internal garda audit has found.

The Garda Internal Audit Service (GIAS) found 1,804 gardaí, civilian staff and pensioners had been overpaid €3.1m.

Gardaí received an average overpayment of €2,760, while the figure for civilian staff was €759. Garda pensioners received an average of €2,849.

The audit, released under Freedom of Information legislation, found no attempts were being made to recover €863,170 in overpayments to 240 individuals before 2014. An Garda Síochána is only focusing on cases after that date.

“There is concern that perhaps nobody is actively monitoring and managing these historic cases,” the audit observed.

It noted historic overpayments, which date back to 1999, may not be recoupable as no records had been found that beneficiaries were notified of overpayment within the required six-month period. Legacy cases would need to be written off where no notification was issued, the report noted, and it recommended deducting 10% of pay or pensions from those who had been notified of overpayment.

Some 83% of overpayments resulted from the late notification of events which affected pay, such as delays in stopping pay or allowances. Sick pay was also noted as an issue in instances where staff took unauthorised leave but were still paid due to delays in payroll being notified they had exceeded the permitted number of sick leave days.

Overpayments also resulted due to incorrect salary points and increment dates being applied.

There was no explanation how an overpayment occurred in 12% of sample cases reviewed or if the garda had been notified within six months.

The audit was carried out jointly by the GIAS and the National Shared Services Office, which oversees human resources and payroll administration for Government departments and public service bodies.

It said local management needs to notify personnel changes in a more timely manner, while the report also said further training for payroll administrators was needed.

An Garda Síochána said the recoupment of overpayments to 155 garda pensioners was a matter for the Department of Justice.

It said seven out of 23 overpayments to gardaí had been fully recouped, while repayment plans were in place for the remainder.

Most of 53 other cases related to individuals who were no longer serving gardaí and An Garda Síochána was seeking to establish who had responsibility for them.

It said it would recommend overpayments totalling less than €2,000 be written off where individuals had not been given notification within six months.

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