Johannesburg -

The state agency responsible for buying information technology (IT) systems for the government is under investigation - three years after the agency first asked for a probe.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has now been given the go-ahead to investigate nine years of operations by the State Information Technology Agency (Sita). The proclamation for the investigation was issued on Friday.

The agency’s mandate is to “consolidate and co-ordinate the state’s information technology resources in order to achieve cost savings through scale, increase delivery capabilities and enhance interoperability”, according to its website. The agency manages IT procurement and delivery “to ensure that the government gets value for money”.

This week neither the SIU nor the Sits would say what was being investigated.

Neither responded to queries about whether any Sita contracts were put on hold, cancelled or have been affected by the investigation.

“The Sita investigation has just been proclaimed and we are not yet in a position to comment on any specifics,” said SIU spokesman Boy Ndala.

“The SIU, through its involvement in the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) is aware of criminal cases involving former senior managers at Sita.” The ACTT is a multi-agency body which includes the SIU.

“The Sita board and its executive welcomes the proclamation gazetted, as the need for a proclamation was mooted by the Sita board in 2009, when it requested the SIU to investigate and follow up on internal information that suggested further investigation is warranted,” said Sita spokeswoman Anthea Summers.

She said this arose from Sita investigations from 2007, an agreement was signed in 2010/11 with the SIU to investigate “specific matters”, and the Sita started a turnaround process in 2010.

She said that Sita would “fully co-operate” with the investigation.

“Since the turnaround implementation, steps have been taken to ensure the integrity of the Sita tendering and procurement processes,” said Summers.

“The turnaround is being led by the Sita board and executive to ensure that Sita’s procurement processes are handled with the highest levels of integrity. Because information and communications technology is a key expenditure in government and the integrity of state institutions is crucial for public confidence, the Sita board and its executive will continue its drive to hold individuals accountable.”

The investigation proclamation - signed by President Jacob Zuma and Minister of Justice Jeff Radebe - allows the SIU to look at matters as far back as October 2003.

No specifics of the investigation were given. - The Star