14 audits and 28 complaints followed up on school building projects

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., has outlined the work undertaken to date to ensure compliance with pay and conditions clauses in the Public Works Contract used on all major school building projects.

In April 2013, the Department of Education & Skills appointed Contractors Administration Services (CAS) to conduct audits on school/college building projects to verify compliance with such clauses, following a competitive tender process.

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CAS undertakes reviews of educational construction sites and any irregularities uncovered are forwarded to the relevant authorities for follow up action.

The Department also provided an on-line complaint system to enable individuals bring to the attention of the Department cases where they are of the opinion that non-compliance with the pay and condition clauses are an issue.

At the end of 2013 a total of 28 complaints have been received in respect of 22 school/college building projects. All but four of these complaints were received via the Department’s on-line system.

Of the 28 complaints received:

  • 19 have been referred to CAS for review (14 Construction Sites)
  • 6 complaints no action taken as projects are not being funded by Department or the projects are nearing completion
  • 2 projects being referred to CAS for review
  • 1 complaint referred directly to NERA as they confirmed they were proposing to carry out a review

CAS has completed 13 audits on school/college construction sites with a further audit on-going.  As a result of the audits, five projects have been referred to the Revenue Commissioners, one to the Department of Social Protection and one to NERA.

All information provided to the Department or information uncovered during an audit undertaken by CAS is shared with NERA, Revenue Commissioners and /or Department of Social Protection as appropriate.

In one audit CAS found non-compliance with record keeping and shortfalls in payments due to workers.  This shortfall was brought to the attention of the contractor and back monies were paid to the workers.  These payments were verified by CAS.

Minister Quinn said, “We are spending €2 billion in a five year school buildings programme and spending a further €125 million on higher education infrastructure. While I know that the vast majority of contractors are totally compliant I want to ensure that all workers on Department of Education & Skills building projects are being paid what they are due.”

“I am also planning to identify a project which is going to site this year in order for CAS to undertake a monitoring service throughout the construction period of the project,” he concluded.