Auditor-General's report

Lapses or are they improper practices?

If one goes through the Auditor-General's reports from this year and previous years, one can see numerous and recurring instances of unfair, non-transparent practices during the tender exercises in the public sector (Upholding confidence in public service; July 22).

Setting different timelines and specifications for different bidders, awarding contracts without competition, and bids not being evaluated on a like-for-like basis were some of the lapses cited.

The report for the 2012/13 Financial Year highlighted an incident where the highest price bidder was allowed, after the tender closed, to change its bid price to be the lowest, thereby securing the tender award.

How can such actions be considered lapses?

How can unsuccessful bidders, especially smaller companies, and those just starting out, hope to survive and grow in such an unfair, non-level playing field?

Complaints were received against unfair conduct in tender exercises. Were investigations made into the complaints, and appropriate actions taken?

Senior correspondent Toh Yong Chuan commented that none of the organisations audited apologised for their mistakes (Counting the cost of repeated public sector audit lapses, July 20).

The Straits Times ran an editorial on audit lapses following last year's Auditor-General's report (Auditing Singapore transparently; Aug 8, 2016); it obviously has had no effect in getting public sector bodies to improve on their accounting and corporate governance practices.

Clearly, we cannot continue to classify blatantly improper practices as lapses.

Systems and procedures must also be put in place, and enforced, for appropriate action to be taken against those causing such "lapses".

Tan Soon Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2017, with the headline 'Lapses or are they improper practices?'. Print Edition | Subscribe