Thursday, 31 July 2014

Auditor-General's Report 2013/2014

Auditor-General lists govt agencies' lapses

For more than 2 years, the Ministry of Health (MOH) doled out a total of S$64,000 in financial aid -- to 99 dead Singaporeans.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) was hoodwinked by 11 "tourists" into paying them S$35,300 in Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds.

These were among the lapses of government ministries and statutory boards in the 2013/2014 financial year, revealed yesterday in the latest report by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO).

Auditor-General's Report flags irregularities in use of public funds

Lapses in the administration of grants, schemes and programmes, as well as instances of weak management of resources which resulted in wastage, were highlighted in the Auditor-General's Report for the Financial Year 2013/14, released on Thu (Jul 17).

After a few years in which the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) focused on procurement-related issues, it said it "consciously shifted" the emphasis for this year's audit to other areas to give the public sector time to enhance their procurement systems.

This year's report - submitted by Auditor-General Willie Tan Yoke Meng to President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Jul 1 & presented to Parliament on Tue -- highlighted the following areas for public sector entities to pay greater attention to:
  • Administration of grants and commitment of public funds (4 serious observations cited)
  • Administration of schemes and programmes (7)
  • Management of land and assets (4)
  • Procurement (8)
  • Other lapses (8)
read more

Room for improvement in how CPF Board administers schemes

Of the 7 lapses cited by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) in the administration of schemes and programmes, 3 were attributed to the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB).

First, the system of checks to detect incorrect payment of CPF contributions by employers for staff away on Operationally Ready National Service was inadequate, relying solely on wage records submitted by employers, with no independent verification. In an instance in May 2013, an employer notified the CPFB that it had underpaid S$816,000 in CPF contributions over 10 years for employers performing NS, the AGO said in its report released on Thu (Jul 17).

In response, the CPFB said it would improve its methodology for auditing NSmen wage records, and has investigated and fully recovered the balance from a total of 28 employers for underpayment or non-payment.

MINDEF cited in Auditor-General's Report for lapses in management of land

In the Auditor-General's Report released on Thu (Jul 17), the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) was cited for 2 of the four lapses identified in the area of Management of Land and Assets.

A piece of State land was licensed to Sembawang Country Club in 1994 for use as a golf course. The licence agreement did not specify an end date, even though the licence should not exceed three years, according to State Land Rules.

Also, the country club sublet 6,842 sq m of wooded land within the golf course that was not covered by the licence to a contractor -- tantamount to unauthorised letting of State land, the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) said. MINDEF says the club is looking into the matter.

MDA rapped for failing to monitor project deliverables: Auditor-General's Report

Among the 3 statutory boards cited in the report for lapses in the administration of grants and the commitment of public funds, the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) highlighted the Media Development Agency (MDA) for being lax in monitoring the submission of project deliverables by recipients of grants.

In 5 out of 28 projects audited, the deliverables were not submitted to the MDA up to 12 months past their stated deadlines, while deliverables for 2 other projects were submitted two to 6 months late.

"There was no evidence that MDA had taken prompt actions to follow up on these cases, which defeated the purpose of requiring grant recipients to meet specified milestone deadlines," the AGO said in its report for Financial Year 2013/14, released on Thursday (July 17).

'Logic flaws' in NLB's computerised system for selecting, purchasing books

8 agencies were cited by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) for lapses in procurement procedures.

Among those highlighted in its report for the Financial Year 2013/14 released on Thu (Jul 17) was the National Library Board (NLB)'s computerised system, implemented in 2012. The system, meant to help the selection and acquisition of books from its panel of vendors "with minimal human intervention", suffered from "logic flaws and inadequacies", according to the AGO.

Between Dec 2012 & Oct 2013, library materials worth S$3.76 million were purchased from the only vendor recommending the title through the computerised system, without giving other vendors a chance to enter a quote. "By doing so, there was no assurance of value for money," said the AGO

'Serious irregularity' as NParks officer created backdated documents for audit

The Auditor-General's Office (AGO) listed 8 lapses that did not fall under the other broad categories outlined in its report for the Financial Year 2013/14 issued on Thu (Jul 15).

These included weaknesses in controls for the processing of housing allowance payments by the Ministry of Education; contracts made outside Singapore not being signed by authorised signatories, in the case of the Foreign Affairs Ministry; and weak controls over seized items by the Health Sciences Authority.

NPARKS: "A SERIOUS IRREGULARITY" - During the audit of the National Parks Board's development of the Gardens by the Bay, the AGO noted that certain documents may have been created and backdated to give the impression that they existed when the transactions took place -- a "serious irregularity", said the Auditor-General.