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FAS Gravy Train

Comptroller and Auditor General Special Report on FAS



Internal Summary of Findings


The examination reported below focused on the processing of transactions at FÁS Head Office and governance arrangements for the organisation. It also reviewed the management of the Competency Development Programme and the administration of foreign travel and business expenses.

Overall Examination Findings

The examination found that FÁS had a governance structure that is consistent with its governing legislation and with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies. It had also a plan of internal control, which, if fully implemented, would have provided sufficient assurance that its transactions were processed in a safe and regular manner.

However, failure to fully implement elements of the plan of control exposed FÁS to the risk of losses as well as the risk of failing to achieve best value for money. The exposures arose from the fact that

authorisation limits were breached when certain transactions were being initiated

there were deficiencies in the conduct of tender processes when goods and services were being acquired

payments were made in the absence of supporting documentation

confirmation orders for purchases already effected were issued in many instances

the system of risk management adopted by the Board in 2005 did not function effectively.

Key units failed to detect or react appropriately to non-compliance with internal procedures.

Notwithstanding these procedural deficiencies, the examination found, based on substantive testing of 2008 transactions initiated by Head Office sections, that payments for the transactions sampled were properly chargeable in the FÁS financial statements.

FÁS has begun taking steps to address the control deficiencies identified and, in particular

the Board has approved a revised set of procurement procedures that include a requirement for managers to make annual declarations of compliance

training workshops have been held to increase the level of awareness of those procurement procedures

policies relating to the use of credit cards and revised procedures governing foreign travel were adopted by the Board during 2009 and the use of credit cards curtailed.

The examination also found that considerable scope exists to improve the depth and quality of reporting both in regard to rule compliance and business performance.

In one relatively new programme – the Competency Development Programme – the examination found that

in its administration, monitoring visits to external training providers were not as frequent as envisaged under FÁS’s own procedures

programme output was not recorded in terms of results such as persons achieving certification

there was no evaluation of the extent to which the training objectives of the programme were achieved.

Specific Findings

The findings of this examination would suggest the need for adjustments to systems, procedures and practices employed by FÁS. These arise in the following areas:

Risk Management

Ongoing identification and mitigation of risk based on an analysis of the control systems and experience derived from transaction processing is key to safe administration of public money.

Responsibility for drawing up individual risk registers lies with the divisions in FÁS while responsibility for compiling and maintaining a consolidated register lies with the Risk Management Committee (the Executive Board). Coordination of the risk management function is the responsibility of Internal Audit. Risk management in FÁS has not operated as envisaged when the Board approved the current risk policy in 2005 – risk registers and action plans were not kept up-to-date, reporting procedures approved by the Board have not operated as envisaged and there has not been any annual review of the effectiveness of the risk management system.


Full report can be seen at following link http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0128/fasreport.pdf

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