Auditor-general not happy with Health Department’s books

Time of article published Oct 4, 2011

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WHILE it is expected to improve the country’s health services, the Health Department’s books are anything but healthy.

The auditor-general has given the department a qualified opinion for the 2010/11 financial year – a step back for a department, which last year received its first unqualified report in seven years.

Irregular expenditure, unreliable information, fraud and problems in procurement and contract management were some of the findings by the A-G’s office.

The department incurred irregular expenditure of R43.3 million as proper supply chain management processes were not followed. The A-G also found problems in procurement and contract management.

In his report, he wrote that in certain instances, goods and services with a transaction value of between R10 000 and R500 000 were procured without inviting at least three written price quotations from prospective suppliers, as required.

In other instances, goods and services with a transaction value of over R500 000 were not procured by means of a competitive bidding process and awards were made to suppliers who did not declare their employment by the state.

“Certain employees performed remunerative work outside their employment in the department without written permission” as required by the Public Service Act.

The A-G found the accounting officer, who is the director-general of the department, did not always take effective and appropriate steps to prevent and detect irregular expenditure.

The accounting officer did not implement adequate control systems for the safeguarding and maintenance of assets to prevent theft, losses, wastage and misuse.

The department is investigating allegations of financial misconduct by an official who travelled internationally without ministerial approval.

It is also investigating allegations of fraud in the supply chain management environment, which include fraudulent transactions amounting to R845 196 involving the department’s travel agency and allegations of fraud in the procurement of promotional materials to the amount of R82 000.

The A-G bemoaned the unreliable information he received from the department.

He said the reported performance information was deficient in respect of: validity, as the reported performance was not supported by sufficient appropriate audit evidence; accuracy, as the amounts, numbers and other data relating to reported actual performance had not been recorded and reported appropriately; and completeness.

The reliability of the reported information was tested on a sample basis, on two of the department’s programmes, at the national department and at 20 health facilities.

The A-G found the validity and accuracy of reported performance against indicators could not be confirmed as inadequate supporting source information was provided

For 22 of the selected 27 indicators of the strategic health programme, the validity and accuracy of the reported indicators could not be established as sufficient appropriate audit evidence could not be provided and the same was true for nine of the selected 22 indicators of the health services programme.

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