Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) is to face a number of questions and challenges from the Public Accounts Committee over a report which delves into the relationship between the college and some of its subsidiary companies.
The initial report was conducted over a 13-month period up to April 2019 by consulting firm Mazars, and had itself resulted from a report published by the PAC in July 2017.
The questions expected to be asked of the college were initially posed by Labour Party leader Alan Kelly last December when he himself was a member of the committee.
Mr Kelly’s concerns will now be relayed to CIT itself and include:
- why the terms of reference for the report were not discussed with or approved by PAC;
- why the report took 13 months to compile, despite only dealing with one year’s worth (September 2014 to August 2015) of companies;
- why that year was chosen and why was it the only one considered;
- why the review was not signed off by a single qualified accountant;
- and why the report amounted to a review, rather than an investigation, which is what PAC had sought.
With Mazars asking the senior management within CIT for information rather than extracting it themselves, the investigation had amounted to the institution investigating itself, Mr Kelly said.
His correspondence will be considered by the newly-formed 33rd PAC when it meets this morning.
CIT denied that there was anything untoward about the Mazars review, which it said had resulted from a “competitive tendering process overseen by the Office of Government Procurement”.
However, CIT has said that the queries are a matter for the Higher Education Authority (HEA) since it was the authority which appointed Mazars in the first place.
The Mazars review itself resulted from a recommendation by PAC, which had stated that upon review it “was not satisfied that there was sufficient clarity” to the relationship between CIT’s maritime college and other corporate entities.
Mazars found that some CIT employees were being paid for part-time work for the college’s offshoots, but were working hours far in excess of what they were contracted for.
Certain expenses charged by employees were approved without receipts. One, for an amount of €287 for clothes and a carrier bag, was processed with an illegible receipt.
The review also found that loans of less than €100,000, of which there were several, between the IT and its companies were not reported to the HEA, as CIT did not consider them to be “financially significant”.