21 Jan 2015, 14.23

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will tomorrow meet with key stakeholders to consider a Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) special report which uncovered weaknesses in internal governance and the lack of oversight at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD).

21 January 2015

Separately, the 2013 Higher Education Authority (HEA) financial statements and costs associated with mergers of Institutes of Technology will be scrutinised.

The following officials will be appearing before the PAC:

Higher Education Authority

  •     Mr. Tom Boland – Chief Executive Officer
  •     Mr. Fergal Costello – Head of System Funding
  •     Mr. Stewart Roche – Management accountant

Department of Education and Skills

  •     Mr. Sean O’Foghlu – Secretary General
  •     Mr. Christy Mannion – Principal Officer
  •     Ms. Anne Marie Grenham – Assistant Principal Officer

National College of Art and Design

  •     Mr. Sean O’Laoire – Chairman
  •     Professor Declan McGonagle – Director
  •     Mr. Damian Downes – Secretary
  •     Mr. Aidan McElwaine – Accounts Section

Department of Public Expenditure & Reform

  •     Mr John Burke – Principal Officer

Committee Chairman, John McGuinness TD, says: “The C&AG’s Special Report 85 points to a history of delays in relation to the production of financial statements for audit by the NCAD. With an annual turnover of €20 million, the Committee will be keen to assess why the NCAD’s audit Committee met just once during the financial years 2010/11 and 2011/12, when best practice would be a minimum of four meetings per year. The PAC will also explore C&AG criticism of procurement guidelines not being followed.

“As the principal oversight body of the higher education system, we will wish to hear from the HEA on why so little was apparently done in response to these delays and discrepancies. Between 2006 and 2013, the authority dispensed €100 million in grant funding to the NCAD and the Committee will be keen to assess how this significant amount of taxpayers’ money was monitored.”

The Committee is also expected to examine the costs to date of proposed mergers in the Institute of Technology sector. Deputy McGuinness continues: “We will wish to investigate the proposed merger between Carlow and Waterford Institutes of Technology, which incurred €381,000 in costs before being suspended by WIT in October 2014. The PAC members will explore the underlying issues for the suspension of the merger process and when the HEA become aware of the break down in the process.”

The HEA’s 2013 Financial Statements of 2013, which included expenditure of some €1,230 million, will also be assessed by the PAC. “The increased expenditure in travel and subsistence, an increase in non-state grant income and changes to university pension schemes are issues the PAC members are likely to raise with the HEA in examining their 2013 statements.”

The meeting takes place tomorrow Thursday 22 January in Committee Room 1, LH 2000 at 10 am. Public proceedings can be viewed online here.

Committee proceedings can also be viewed on the move, through the Houses of the Oireachtas Smartphone App, available for Apple and Android devices.

For further information please contact:
Paul Hand,
Communications Unit,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2

P: +3531 618 4484
M: +353 87 694 9926

Committee Membership
Áine Collins, Fine Gael
Paul J. Connaughton, Fine Gael
Joe Costello, Labour Party
John Deasy, Fine Gael
Robert Dowds, Labour Party
Seán Fleming, Fianna Fáil
Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin
John McGuinness, Fianna Fáil (Chairman)
Gabrielle McFadden, Fine Gael
Derek Nolan, Labour Party
Patrick O’Donovan, Fine Gael
John Perry, Fine Gael
Shane Ross, Independent