We often read reports of government leaders not taking the findings and recommendations of public service watchdogs seriously. Gauteng MEC of finance, Barbara Creecy is changing that perception, hopefully with positive results in sight. This week she announced during the tabling of her department’s annual report that officials in her department would be investigated with regard to procurement processes. For this, the MEC gets our hero status for the week.
BDLive reports that Creecy said on Tuesday she was concerned with a finding of the auditor-general that showed R518-million in contracts awarded to service providers bidding in contravention of treasury regulations.
"I view this finding in a very serious light,” said the MEC. “The department has instituted an investigation to determine whether officials wilfully made or allowed irregular expenditure, and in what manner they committed financial misconduct. If this is confirmed, disciplinary action will be taken against those implicated.”
The department, Creecy told the legislature, has sustained its unqualified audit opinion for financial and non-financial performance in 2013/14. “The department spent a total of 92% of its budget and there was no unauthorised expenditure in the year under review.”
The MEC further said the Gauteng Audit Services’s (GAS) focus on addressing “critical findings raised by the auditor-general” helped departments put in place adequate, internal controls within their operations and financial processes.
“GAS implemented a tracking system to monitor the implementation of audit recommendations, to facilitate the realisation of unqualified audit opinions by all provincial departments at the end of the financial-year.”
Forensic investigations handled by the department had also been concluded, said Creecy, as had fraud detection reviews and anti-fraud awareness workshops in all departments.
“We have also developed a case management system to address recurring backlogs and to improve turnaround times in resolving matters through the National Anti-Corruption Hotline. We are determined that our proactive stance on preventing corruption is maintained.”
Another area of concern for the auditor-general – that of excessive use of consultants by government departments – was being addressed by her department, said Creecy.
“The department is also reviewing the [recently introduced] consultant reduction plan, and in areas where we will still need to use consultants, procurement laws will need to be fully complied with to avoid further findings of irregular expenditure."