Lapses in government procurement remain, says Auditor-General in 2012/13 report

Tender exercises by government agencies continue to be prone to lapses despite efforts to tighten procurement rules over the last few years, the Auditor-General said in his annual report released on Wednesday.

For instance, the Media Development Authority negotiated with a vendor for a revised proposal to organise the $4.57 million Film Festival. This was after the request for proposal exercise had closed, and contravened government rules.

Another tender by Republic Polytechnic was not conducted in an open and fair manner, Auditor-General Willie Tan said.

The tender was for a $19.14 million project to develop an integrated academic system.

After the deadline had passed, the polytechnic allowed one vendor to submit a revised proposal, which was a substantial change from the original tender specifications.

This was not disclosed to the tender approving authority, and this tenderer was eventually awarded the contract.

The Auditor-General in his report also noted that the polytechnic did not consider recalling the tender or inviting other shortlisted tenderers to submit revised bids, though this is required under government rules.

Other lapses by ministries and statutory boards which were highlighted in the 63-page report included failure to monitor performance of contractors and external consultants; and management of stocks and computer access controls.

The Auditor-General's Office said the irregularities and weaknesses do not necessarily reflect the entities' general state of administration but "serve as pointers to areas where improvements should be made in the accounting, use and management of public funds and resources."

The Government's financial statements (incorporating the accounts of all ministries and organs of state), 13 statutory boards, five government-owned companies, two government funds and two other accounts were audited.