Singapore

AGO raises issues of IT controls, overpayments in govt agencies

Audits show lapses in procurement, contract and operations management

Deficiencies in IT controls continue to be a concern for a number of government agencies, and audits have turned up lapses in procurement, contract and operations management at entities such as the JTC Corporation.

In its annual audit report released yesterday, the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) flagged issues in three ministries and eight statutory boards.

These include IT weaknesses at national water agency PUB, as well as gaps in the management of business grant programmes under Workforce Singapore (WSG) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG).

Public accountability remains a top priority for the Government, the Finance Ministry said in its response to the report.

"Heads of the agencies concerned have reviewed each case and are taking active steps to address the lapses. Where relevant, remedial actions have been taken at a whole-of-government level to prevent recurrence of these lapses."

Government agencies have verified that no confidential data was compromised and no unauthorised activities resulted from the IT lapses, and that they have taken steps to address lapses involving overpayments, the ministry added.

This year's report was delayed due to Covid-19 measures, including the implementation of the circuit breaker period, said Auditor-General Goh Soon Poh. The report is typically issued in July.

PUB

In the case of PUB, which was involved in a public-private partnership project, it did not ensure its private sector partner had implemented adequate controls.

For example, excessive rights were granted to the partner's vendor. An administrator account was also shared among staff from the partner and its vendor.

The National Library Board was found to have poorly managed contract variations and overall project management for its revamp of the National Archives of Singapore building.

In-principle approvals were sought for variations without compelling reasons and approved even though no ballpark cost estimates were provided.

In the end, the project exceeded its approved cost by $1.72 million, the Auditor-General noted.

Meanwhile, JTC paid a terminated contractor, even though it could have withheld the payment under the contract and used this to offset the debt claimable from the contractor.

JTC subsequently filed a claim against the contractor for this debt, but as of June, had not yet received any monies owed.

In a case regarding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the AGO detected issues when auditing an overseas mission.

Measures to enforce terms stipulated in service agreements signed with the mission's authorised visa agents were inadequate, it said.

Three of the 16 appointed visa agents were found to have stated visa fees between 16 per cent and 50 per cent higher than what was stipulated in the service agreements.

In its audit of six business grant programmes managed by WSG and ESG, the AGO flagged several issues with grant evaluation and approval, as well as with disbursement and cessation.

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