10 September 2009

Massive Waste of Taxpayers' Money in FÁS

Ireland's national training and employment agency FÁS (Foras Áiseanna Saothair) has wasted vast amounts of taxpayers' money and exceeded its budgets regularly.

A new report by Ireland's Comptroller & Auditor General John Buckley, which is the result of a nearly year-long investigation, highlights "a substantial and prolonged breakdown in budgetary control" at the state agency.

One of the agency's most significant follies is a case especially highlighted in the report: FÁS did spend more than € 600,000 on a television advertisement that was never broadcast.

Mr. Buckley also found that general spending in FÁS exceeded budgets by up to 66%.

Nearly a year ago, when the scandalous money-wasting of FÁS became public knowledge, he was given the task to investigate the agency. (see my entries of September 22nd & 23rd, 2008)

Between 2002 and 2008, FÁS spent over € 48 million alone on advertising and promotional activities. This is the largest advertising spend in the non-commercial state sector, and for most of the period audited Ireland had almost full employment. Which means the agency had hardly anything to do and only very few 'customers'.

The Comptroller & Auditor General also found that budgetary control in FÁS was "poor" and expenditure in this area exceeded budgets by 38%.

As well as the € 600,000 spent on the un-used television advertisement, the agency spent a further € 600,000 with no services at all delivered.

Criticising the wasteful expenditure of FÁS, John Buckley said that "public procurement requirements were not met".

Overall, the report finds that advertising and promotional activities lacked strategic direction and that much of the advertising was ineffective in increasing awareness of FÁS services.

On the basis of what is known by now, there are good reasons to abolish FÁS as an independent agency and to divide its obligations between two government departments: Education (for the training elements) and Enterprise, Trade & Employment (for the work-related and employment duties).

It would also be sensible to prosecute FÁS employees who were responsible for the enormous spending spree and the massive waste of taxpayers' money and try to re-coup as much of it as possible from guilty individuals.
But as things are in Ireland, this is rather unlikely. Those close to the government here get away with everything and are never punished. The ordinary Irish people are instead burdened with the costs of government follies and the many failures and mistakes of its countless agencies.
If one would not know better, one might think Ireland is still a feudal state in the Middle Ages.

The Emerald Islander

For further details about the scandals and wastefulness of FÁS see also my entries of November 22nd, 25th, 26th & 27th, 2008.

1 comment:

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