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Kerry education board spent €1m without following rules

Kerry Education and Training Board spent at least €1m on goods and services without fully following rules around procurement in 2016, writes Education Correspondent Niall Murray.

The areas in which the lack of compliance with national guidelines was found included buses and transport, cleaning, legal costs, and recruitment.

The total value of goods and services which a review of spending found not to have been procured in accordance with the guidance was €1,078,795.

There was also a shortage of full compliance in spending on school books, exam papers and canteen costs.

“While procurement processes were undertaken by individual schools and centres in respect of some of these areas, competitions were not run on a scheme-wide basis.

"In some cases, contracts were extended beyond the original contract date,” a statement on internal control systems states.

It is included in Kerry ETB’s 2016 financial statement, published this week.

An accompanying report to the Oireachtas from Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy notes that the statement discloses what he describes as “a material level of non-compliance with national procurement rules”.

Kerry ETB spent €51m in 2016, including €28.7m paying 1,075 employess, to provide education and training for nearly 16,000 people.

They included 3,241 second-level and post-Leaving Certificate students at nine locations, and the rest were on further education, training and part-time courses in nearly 180 centres.

The internal control statement says the board is making significant efforts to ensure compliance with all relevant guidelines.

It issued a tender notice last month for a recruitment agency to supply agency personnel to supplement core clerical, administration, caretaking and cleaning staff. Further competitions are planned this year in respect of cleaning, school books and legal costs.

A further review to ascertain the best approach to procuring goods and services in other areas is promised this year. Kerry ETB said that, where they are available, it will use Office of Government Procurement frameworks.

A dedicated procurement officer will be recruited early this year by the board, and a full review of existing and future contracts should further ensure compliance with national guidelines.

The ETB has revised and updated its own procurement policy, procedures and purchasing guidelines and provided training for line managers.

This story originally appeared in the Irish Examiner