AGO report: MOH to strengthen processes, oversight after AGO finds discrepancies

The ministry said it was "not aware" that its agent had separately engaged site supervisory staff for the building of the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.
The ministry said it was "not aware" that its agent had separately engaged site supervisory staff for the building of the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore - The Ministry of Health (MOH) will work on strengthening its project oversight processes and management controls after the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) found discrepancies in its financial transactions.

However, the ministry, in a statement, said: "There were no indications of fraud or corrupt practices which warrant further investigation, or deliberate wrongdoing by the persons involved in the projects."

The AGO's annual report found that MOH spent $4.08 million paying for supervisory staff without making sure whether they were really needed.

The ministry, in its replies to queries from AGO, said it was "not aware" that its agent had separately engaged site supervisory staff for the building of the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. It came to know of this only much later, it added. MOH was also not clear whether it had to pay for these services after March 2015.

The AGO, in its report, criticised the ministry for "lack of controls and inadequate oversight". It also flagged MOH for irregularities in seeking approvals for 40 changes to contracts - amounting to $3.76 million - in 10 other projects.

The AGO found that approval was not obtained, or sought only after work had started, or they were obtained from the wrong authority.

 
 

In some cases, it found that "approvals were either obtained before the relevant assessment and recommendations were made or backdated".

As a result, it said, there are doubts on whether the projects were properly assessed. The AGO informed MOH that the role of the approving authority should not be "regarded as perfunctory".

The AGO also found that wrong payments were made under the ElderCare fund, which is used to subsidise nursing homes run by voluntary welfare organisations.

The errors resulted in the overpayment of $48,000 to two service providers. Two other providers ended up claiming a total of $12,300 less than they were supposed to.

In a statement today (July 18), MOH said it has introduced additional checks to detect inaccurate claims as well as a checklist to strengthen funding audits.