AGO Finds Severe Lapses In Fund Management By Various Government Agencies

On Wednesday, the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) released their findings on its annual audit of government agencies. They flagged a number of very serious shortcomings in different government agencies.

Issues with Covid-19 related procurement and expenditure managed by HPB, SLA, MOM

The AGO found that the Health Promotion Board (HPB), Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had many areas to be improved. These 3 agencies spent about S$1.51 billion on Covid-19 expenditure relating to manpower services, accommodation facilities and meal catering.

For SLA and MOM, there were lapses in the evaluation of their contractors’ proposals and assessment of price reasonableness. They also had inadequate checks on the validity of payments, discrepancies in payment claims, and there was also a lack of supporting documents for payments.

As for HPB, many of their documents related to the evaluation and appointment of personnel conducting Covid-19 swabs cannot be found for the audit. This includes contract offers and acceptances by the personnel.

According to the AGO, one contractor also provided very dubious documents to substantiate their prices for their services.

MCI, MHA sloppy with evaluation of tender bidders

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) was looking for creative services to execute communication campaigns. They received widely differing bids for the same service. For example, one bidder submitted a bid of S$900 for a service item, while another charged $82,800 for the same item.

The issue is that MCI didn’t bother to check whether the quotations were for the exact items (“like-for-like basis”). They just went ahead with their selection based on this very drastically different quotation. AGO found that the highest rates they received were up to 92 times the lowest rates for some service items!

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had appointed construction contractors for two development projects. They also engaged consultants to manage the main construction contracts on its behalf. However, the audit found lapses in the form of inadequate assessment of the cost reasonableness for things that were not listed in the contract (“star rate items”). 

In fact, 198 of 199 star rate items were not assessed based on independent sources. This is in contrary to the stipulated guidelines. 531 of 752 star rate items were also not properly valued – the values quoted by the contractors had irregularities.

MOE’s SSA overpaid their recipients S$4.22 million

The AGO also reported that SkillsFuture Singapore Agency (SSG), a statutory board under the Ministry of Education (MOE), overpaid their recipients S$4.22 million.

This happened because of inadequate monitoring. There were lapses in checking for grant eligibility. They also disbursed money to individuals and companies that were not allowed to get funding.

Ministries need to remember that they are managing taxpayers’ money!

These are Singaporeans money! They say that GST hike is necessary to deal with Singapore’s increased spending. Yet here they are mismanaging our money!

We need more answers to which individuals or companies benefited from all these mismanagement.