The Department of Education has ordered an investigation into public procurement and other practices at one of the country’s Education and Training Boards, formerly known as VECs.
Kildare and Wicklow ETB is to be examined as a result of concerns raised with the Department of Education by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
In a statement the Department said that the Comptroller and Auditor General brought “a number of issues” to its attention in the course of an audit of the ETB’s financial statements for 2015. It says that audit is still ongoing.
The Department of Education says that having considered the issues, and subsequent correspondence with Kildare and Wicklow ETB, it has appointed an investigator to examine the performance of the board of the ETB, particularly in relation to public procurement, and the usage and disposal of assets.
The investigation will be carried out by Richard Thorn, who is president emeritus of Sligo Institute of Technology.
The terms of reference include an examination of the “robustness” of the ETB’s responses to the issues raised in the audit and the Department’s subsequent correspondence, and the identification of any gaps or inconsistencies in those responses.
Those responses dealt with questions around compliance with procurement procedures and the delivery of building projects, as well as the effectiveness of arrangements put in place over the past three years to ensure that conflicts of interest did not occur in relation to procurement, and the sale or leasing of assets.
The investigation will examine the background to and circumstances surrounding the use by an unidentified company of a rented ETB property.
It will examine the sale of a motor vehicle, including the assessment of its value and the supporting documentation in relation to the sale, and what it calls “the timeliness of receipt of the proceeds”.
It will also examine and report on the awarding of a contract to an independent expert for a school building project.
The Department statement goes on to say that the investigation may include any other matters which, during the course of the investigation come to the attention of the investigator and which are a cause for concern or a matter of public interest.
The investigation will focus on matters related to the past three years. However its terms of reference allow it to examine documents and matters prior to that, if necessary.
The investigation is expected to be completed by March of next year.