Thursday, April 12, 2012

Public Accounts Committee concerned about procurement lapses

SINGAPORE: The Public Accounts Committee said it is concerned about the lapses related to procurement and contract management in six ministries and some of the statutory boards under their charge.

The committee said the lapses undermine the government's procurement principles of open and fair competition, transparency and value for money and could erode public confidence in public sector procurement.

A number of these lapses have resulted in the government being overcharged and, in some cases, with no recourse for recovering the money, the committee noted.

The committee, which released its report today, had sought written explanations from four ministries on the procurement and contract management lapses.

The ministries concerned are the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Transport.

In the case of MHA, the committee also called upon the ministry's permanent secretary to present oral evidence.

The committee said this was because serious lapses in procurement in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) had been reported in the last two Reports of the Auditor-General.

The committee said these suggest underlying broad-based weaknesses in procurement management in some departments of SPF.

In financial year 2010/2011, the Auditor-General observed irregularities at every stage of the management of two projects undertaken by the Police Coast Guard (PCG) which resulted in SPF being grossly overcharged.

The two PCG projects had a total contract value of S$6.86 million.

In financial year 2009/10, lapses were found in the management of a contract for the maintenance of surveillance camera systems of the Traffic Police resulting in SPF paying, over many years, for maintenance work which was not done.

MHA informed the committee that SPF has since recovered S$1.18 million from the contractors and S$53,154 from the project management company in respect of work items overcharged.

MHA is also seeking to recover an additional overcharged amount, estimated by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) to be S$700,000, from the contractors.

MHA informed the committee that it would be implementing several measures to strengthen financial control, contract administration and project management across all departments in the ministry.

The committee also noted that falsified documents could have been provided to AGO by the project manager engaged by PCG for the two projects.

MHA said it had referred the matter to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) for investigation.

CAD has since referred the case to the Attorney-General's Chambers (ACG) for evaluation.

View the original article here

Source From Channel News Asia

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