Auditor-General raps government agencies for lapses

According to the report, the Ministry of Health paid $4.08 million for site supervisors for building the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital without verifying the need for staff or if the cost was reasonable.
According to the report, the Ministry of Health paid $4.08 million for site supervisors for building the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital without verifying the need for staff or if the cost was reasonable.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Auditor-General has rapped several agencies for lapses in controls over information technology (IT) systems, lack of financial controls and inadequate oversight over large-scale development projects.

In its report on the latest annual audit of government finances, the Auditor-General's Office flagged several "irregularities" at the Ministry of Health, notably paying $4.08 million for site supervisors for building the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital without verifying the need for staff or if the cost was reasonable. It also made 32 changes to contracts for 10 projects valued at $2.17 million after the projects were completed or had started.

The Social and Family Development Ministry did not track how its staff and vendors used the IT systems that run the Baby Bonus, childcare and infant-care subsidy schemes, giving rise to the possibility of confidential information being leaked or data being corrupted.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) gave out grants of $2.59 million for eight projects even though information on them was inaccurate and incomplete.

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In six of them, the EDB misrepresented them as being on track, "even though the grant recipients did not meet or faced difficulties in meeting certain project conditions", the report noted.

The agencies have acknowledged the lapses and pledged to tighten their controls. The Ministry of Finance said the public sector's overall system of managing public funds remains sound, but acknowledged there are areas where agencies can do better by strengthening their financial governance. "The public service is taking a concerted effort to address the issues identified," it said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'Auditor-General raps government agencies for lapses'. Print Edition | Subscribe