Singapore

Ministry officers, PA staff punished over irregularities

MCCY officers had admitted to fabricating claims records

Two Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) officers were issued official warnings and their performance assessments affected after they admitted to fabricating claims records.

In separate cases, People's Association (PA) staff who may have falsified quotations and doctored documents were suspended from duties.

Irregularities in contractors' records provided to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) led to one contractor being charged in court and the other given a 12-month conditional warning.

Two officers are also undergoing internal investigations for a lack of due diligence, said Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah yesterday.

Investigations are ongoing at two other agencies - the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Housing Board, she added.

Ms Indranee was responding to questions by Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh and Mr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang) on recurring lapses uncovered by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO).

The five agencies were flagged by AGO for irregularities and possible falsification of documents, in its July report on government accounts for the 2020/2021 financial year.

The AGO noted some supporting documents for claims in MCCY appeared to have been photocopies, with alterations made to the dates and duration of services rendered.

At MOE and MHA, there were supporting documents possibly created or backdated to satisfy queries.

FALSIFICATION

For the HDB, quotations for some items could have been created or altered to give the impression that they were obtained from other suppliers.

At the PA, possible irregularities suggested falsification of quotations, alteration of hard-copy payment supporting details and the creation and backdating of documents.

Ms Indranee said two MCCY officers have admitted to fabricating claims records for services rendered by external parties.

The officers could not locate the records when asked by the AGO. But the investigation showed that the claims were valid, and services were in fact rendered.

"While the claims were real, the conduct of the officers in fabricating the claims records was wrong," she explained.

Human errors and process gaps will happen from time to time, she added, given that there are 150,000 officers in the public service handling hundreds of thousands of transactions each year, and more than 2,000 government information technology systems built over the years by different vendors and using different technologies.

To improve processes and officers' capabilities, Ms Indranee said more central IT infrastructure and common services are being deployed.

Agencies regularly review and strengthen their own processes and systems to mitigate agency-level risks, she added.

Ms Indranee emphasised that integrity is a core value of the public service, and it will continue to uphold strict standards to ensure accountability in the use of public funds.

Singapore Politics