SINGAPORE (The Straits Times / ANN): The Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Thursday (July 22nd) that it takes a serious view of the irregularities in the records that public agencies submit for audit and has stressed that the Government has no tolerance for corruption fraud.
The statement followed the annual report of the General Audit Office (AGO) published earlier in the day, which showed possible irregularities in the records provided by public agencies for audit, among other things.
MOF said all cases will be thoroughly investigated and that any agent involved in these crimes will be treated.
“People are the center of our public service company. We are disappointed with cases where civil servants manufacture or alter documents for audits that AGO had marked, such as the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the Association Popular.
“We have a serious view of the irregularities in the records provided for the audit. These actions weaken the public accountability system,” the ministry said.
MOF added that it will “release the book to officers involved in alleged fraud and corruption, including police reports for criminal investigations.”
Meanwhile, agency heads will continue to strengthen governance and controls, as well as intensify internal audits to monitor for the possibility of doing wrong. All detected problems will be addressed, the ministry stressed.
“We will not hesitate to ensure public accountability in the use of public funds as we continue to serve Singaporeans to the fullest of our efforts,” he said.
MOF said the AGO had conducted a thematic audit on the facilities management contracts of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Interior. It was found that both had established policies and procedures for managing their facility management contracts.
But while the AGO observed several good practices in these agencies, it suggested areas for improvement. These include strengthening controls and monitoring contractors ’compliance with contractual requirements.
MOF said it has begun work on measures to consolidate facility management and improve the way agencies handle such contracts. These measures aim to drive the exchange and adoption of good practices, standardize processes and deepen capacities among public agencies, he said.
“By 2025, approximately 70% of public agencies will have consolidated their facilities management to achieve economies of scale and better results. The JTC-led Center of Building and Infrastructure Excellence is supporting to these efforts by providing facilities management advisory and training services, ”added MOF.
MOF said improvements are needed to address defects in contract and contract management, as well as in IT controls and operations, areas that were highlighted in the AGO audit report.
The audit revealed weaknesses to the Department of General Accounting and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, among other agencies, on the management of privileged operating system user accounts: computer accounts that give access to more secure parts of an agency’s systems.
MOF said the heads of agencies who were identified by the AGO have reviewed each case carefully and are taking steps to address the identified gaps and improve their agencies ’systems and processes.
The ministry is also implementing government-wide measures to address these issues. These include the creation of the Office of the Public Procurement Function to review policies and strengthen procurement capacities.
To improve IT controls, Smart Nation and Digital Government Group and relevant agencies are on track to implement technical systems to automate the review of privileged user activities for 800 high-priority systems by December 2022 and all systems until December 2023.
With regard to operations management, MOF said it will ensure that periodic post-payment analyzes are carried out. He added that by the end of this year a new system of human resources and payrolls with better controls will be deployed. – The Straits Times / Asia News Network