Public sector bodies must do more to clean up their act

The latest Auditor-General's Office (AGO) reporthas highlighted the same lapses and acts of non-transparency committed by our governmental and public-sector bodies that were seen in previous reports (Auditor-General flags lapses at ministries, govt agencies; July 18).

This is despite past assurances by the bodies audited to improve.

The People's Association and a grassroots organisation were cited for, among other things, allowing a tender bid to be revised after tender closure and not evaluating tenders on an equal basis.

In 2015, the AGO flagged the case of a grassroots organisation chairman who had approved his own claims, three of which were without supporting documents, as well as payments made to a company in which he held a senior position (PA investigates lapses at grassroots organisations flagged by Auditor-General; July 15, 2015).

The obvious question is: How are those in senior positions in grassroots organisations, especially those in charge of tenders and financial matters, appointed?

Indeed, those helming the organisations audited are all highly qualified and capable, with many scholars among them. And yet, we are seeing recurring improper practices being highlighted in AGO reports.

Recently, a former Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) engineer was convicted of cheating the Government over contracts worth more than $1.8 million (Ex-RSAF man jailed in $1.8m cheating case; July 28). The deputy public prosecutor said the man had "compromised the procurement process".

Aren't the improper practices involving tender exercises cited in the AGO reports also acts of having "compromised the procurement process"? Why, then, were those cases not brought to court?

More must be done by our governmental and public-sector bodies to clean house with respect to the findings in the AGO report.

Tan Soon Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2018, with the headline 'Public sector bodies must do more to clean up their act'. Print Edition | Subscribe