ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Auditor-General spots lapses in government audit processes

Contract management issues in some agencies have lasted for years.

The Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) of Singapore has found lapses in the government’s audit observations that have existed in the last few years, it revealed in its annual report.

AGO’s audit observations fall into seven main categories – contract management, Information Technology (IT) controls, financial controls, grant management, procurement and payment, revenue contracting, and project management.

AGO found lapses in contract management such as paying for services not rendered and not obtaining proper approvals for the awarding of contracts. AGO’s audits also revealed lapses in the management of contract variations.

A number of these observations were recurring lapses found across different public sector entities which AGO had audited over the last few years, the report said.

Another group of lapses, discovered by AGO last year, pertained to weaknesses in IT controls found across several public sector entities audited. The common weaknesses included no monitoring of privileged users’ activities in IT systems and lapses in managing user accounts and access rights.

In the area of financial controls, AGO found instances of laxity in the management of cash and assistance in-kind under welfare assistance schemes, weaknesses in overseas purchases and payments, and lapses in revenue contracting.

For the management of R&D grants, AGO noted that generally there were established processes for grant applications, evaluations, and awards in the two public sector entities which AGO conducted a thematic audit on.

“Nevertheless, AGO observed that there is a need to strengthen controls in areas such as the monitoring and review of progress/final reports and audit reports, and recovery of unutilised fund,” it added.

“The audit observations have been communicated to the public sector entities concerned through AGO Management Letters for follow-up,” AGO said. It then added that the public sector entities it has contacted take the observations seriously and are committed to rectifying the lapses. 

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