Special Report Number 8: National Educational Welfare Board ? Lapses in Internal Control

Dublin Castle, 15 November 2007

Press Release: National Educational Welfare Board ? Lapses in Internal Control

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr John Purcell, has today (15 November 2007) published a report arising from a review of internal controls in the National Educational Welfare Board during the period 2003-2005.

Background to the Examination

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) was established as a statutory body in 2002 under the provisions of the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000. NEWB has a statutory function to ensure that every child either attends a school or otherwise receives an education.  In June 2003, the Board took over responsibility for its payments processing from the Department of Education and Science.

Findings

In June 2005, following the detection of a missing email, the Board commissioned investigations into the procurement of IT equipment and services.

The investigations revealed that the Board?s control systems were circumvented and it had incurred nugatory expenditure of approximately ?470,000 in that

  • IT equipment costing almost ?200,000 in excess of the organisation?s needs had been purchased
  • payment for IT services not provided had been made at an estimated cost of ?270,000.
  • The Board also incurred professional fees of ?228,000 in investigating the matter.
  • The report suggests that the control of risks associated with hiving off functions to new semi-State bodies can be mitigated by better monitoring and support by sponsoring Departments in the early stages of development.

Notes for Editors

The Comptroller and Auditor General is an independent constitutional officer with responsibility for the audit of public funds.  He reports to Dáil ?reann. 

The full text of the report is available on the website of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (go to www.audgen.gov.ie).

For further information about the report, please contact:

John Buckley at (01) 6031025 or at john_buckley@audgen.irlgov.ie