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Friday 18.08.2017 | Name days: Liene, Helēna, Elena, Ellena, Liena

HEC Chairman and Project Manager to be asked to return losses for failed evaluation project

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Auditors of Deloitte Latvia have concluded that the organizers of the higher education program evaluation project should be requested to pay back the losses for the project’s failure. According to information acquired by LETA, they can be called to criminal responsibility if signs of criminal violations are discovered.

The main persons responsible are the Project Manager of the Higher Education Council (HEC) Baiba Rivza and the Chairman of HEC Janis Vetra. Education and Science Minister Roberts Kilis also notes their possible hand in violations.

They may be called disciplinary responsibility, which would mean removing them from their posts at HEC.

According to LETA, auditors had stated in their conclusions that a number of violations were discovered during inspections. If the ESM sees it necessary to find and prove possible violations, it will be necessary to carry out an in-depth inspection or turn to law enforcement institutions.

As the Project Manager, Rivza was obligated to ensure the successful planning and realization of the project, administrative and general management. She was also obligated to participate in different events related to the project.

Auditors concluded an ethical conflict of interests in Rivza’s activities, because she and her husband are professors of the Latvian Agricultural University. She was also once a manager of a scientific project at the university, participated in different scientific projects of University of Latvia and Riga’s Technical University.

Rivza believes that the project had no violations that could have potentially threatened the use of the project’s results in the accreditation process. She does not understand why the process is being delayed, because, according to her, it would be wise to use the results.

In regard to the alleged conflict of interests, she declines the very thought of there being one, because she never participated in actual evaluation. “This conflict of interests cannot be applied to me, because I never assessed anything. It is also mentioned that there may be a conflict of ethical nature. But I see no conflict, because I did not assess, I did not influence anything,” – she said.

Charges against Vetra, on the other hand, are larger in numbers and more serious. Kilis turned to the prosecutor’s office against him March 8.

Vetra is charged with allowing electronic coordination of experts, them signing blank documents, as well as signing employment contracts with persons before they were appointed as experts by HEC. So it is believed that Vetra had exceeded his authority as state official.

Also, it is likely that the contract with Rivza was signed before she was appointed as Project Manager by HEC: i.e., the contract was signed on May 10, but her candidacy was only confirmed on May 26. The same situation was present with a number of other experts. One of them even began his work before his approval by HEC.

Vetra, however, sees no flaws in the project and believes that neither he nor anyone else should take responsibility. “After looking into the project in detail, I have not been able to find a single violation. I believe no one should take responsibility: not me, not the minister, not even any of the project’s organizers. The sooner Deloitte‘s report is put behind us as a minor misunderstanding, the better it will be for the whole of Latvia’s higher education,” – he said.

HEC Chairman explained that the council’s regulation allow for electronic coordination of experts. In addition, this situation was only present for a handful of experts, who were supposed to had been replaced. Vetra said that experts could not have completed their work without employment contracts. He believes that this minor thing did not affect the progress of the education program assessment project.

He also believes the results of the project should be used in the accreditation process of higher education institutions. Vetra is certain the results of the project are trustworthy.

However, Deloitte auditors have concluded that HEC had taken up responsibility for the project’s success as a legal person. This means the Chairman of HEC is directly responsible for the success, because he was the one who employed experts and other workers. The Chairman is responsible on a legal, criminal and civil levels. The same applies to all other members of HEC.


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