SINGAPORE: The Auditor-General's Office (AGO) observed that there were weaknesses in IT controls, laxity in financial controls and inadequate oversight of development projects among the government agencies it audited in the financial year of 2016/2017.
According to the AGO's latest report released on Tuesday (Jul 18), it audited two government ministries - the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) - one government fund and five statutory boards.
For weakness in IT controls, the Auditor-General found that there were weaknesses in IT controls in its audits of the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB), the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE), the National Parks Board (NParks) and MSF.
CPFB, for example, showed lapses in the management of the two IT security monitoring systems which tracked the activities of its databases and systems. It did not monitor the IT security monitoring systems for unauthorised changes, and for one system in particular, AGO's test checks of the system logs for three months revealed that about 88.7 per cent of the changes made by administrators were not supported by approved change requests, the report stated.
In terms of laxity in financial controls, the AGO found instances of this in entities such as the Singapore Sports Council, SCORE and the Economic Development Board. "These lapses include late payments, payments not certified by authorised officers, contracts not signed by authorised signatories, poor management of assets and grants disbursements made based on inaccurate or incomplete information," the report pointed out.
As for inadequate oversight of development projects, AGO's audits revealed weaknesses in the management of such projects under MOH.
These include the lack of assessment of the need for and cost reasonableness of expenditure before payments were made to an agent, not ensuring that the agent adhered to the approving limits set by MOH for variations, and such works carried out before proper approvals were obtained, the report stated.
For the development of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, AGO observed that MOH incurred expenditure of S$4.08 million for site supervisory staff engaged by its agent "without verifying the need for and reasonableness of the expenditure".
The Auditor-General concluded by noting that the public sector entities audited have taken the observations "seriously, and have "indicated that they are committed to rectify the lapses and put in place measures to prevent future occurrence".
OVERALL SYSTEM OF MANAGING PUBLIC FUNDS REMAIN SOUND: MOF
In a response to the AGO report, the Ministry of Finance said that while the public sector’s overall system of managing public funds remains sound, "there are areas where government agencies can do better, by strengthening their financial governance".
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