The Chief Executive of the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) has told the Public Accounts Committee that they have built a "robust culture of corporate governance" following serious failings raised by the Government's spending watchdog.

The special report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Seamus McCarthy, found weaknesses in KWETB's procurement processes and that contracts awarded to a firm with connections to the then Chief Executive were not disclosed.

Mr McCarthy began his investigation while examining the 2015 Financial Statements. 

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau was asked to investigate the matter following the publication of a report by Dr Richard Thorn, commissioned by the Department of Education. 

Dr Deirdre Keyes took over as Chief Executive in June last year.

Today, she told the committee that they were "co-operating in full with the Gardaí to ensure that this investigation can reach its conclusion in as efficient and timely a manner as possible".

"Considerable resources and time have had to be diverted to this investigation," she said. 

"Whilst acknowledging and accepting the seriousness of the findings of both reports, I hope that I can provide assurances to the Committee that KWETB has set about to build a robust culture of corporate governance," Dr Keyes told members today. 

The Secretary General of the Department of Education Séan O'Foghlu told members that the issues at KWETB were of "very serious concern".

However, he said governance arrangements for ETBs had been reformed, and the Internal Audit function is now placed on a statutory basis.

Mr McCarthy confirmed to Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane that concerns were first raised with regard to procurement with the 2010 accounts of Kildare ETB.

Mr O'Foghlu acknowledged to Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy that there had been internal audit failings.

He also told the committee that they had not seen evidence of similar failings across the ETB sector, but that they were seeking to develop the role of an independent internal audit service for ETBs.

The matter was also the subject of an RTÉ Investigates programme.


Gardaí investigate KWETB payments