COA drafts new rules on audit of intel fundsBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Audit is drafting new guidelines to ensure that government intelligence funds are carefully scrutinized and not simply approved by rote, COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan has said.
At the same time, the state audit agency has embarked on its own housecleaning, Tan said in a recent forum conducted by the Philippine Information Agency.
Tan said changes were being made at COA and these include reminding state auditors not to accept perks from the government agencies they are auditing and abolishing the pre-audit practice.
Tan said that in the audit of intelligence funds, all that is submitted to COA are certifications that particular amounts were spent for particular intelligence activities.
She said that if COA would base its audit on just the certification, then it would be better not to conduct an audit at all.
“What we review has to have substance,” Tan said. “Right now, if you have 80 percent of funds supported only by certification, I don’t think it makes any sense to conduct an audit.”
Tan said she was coming up with draft rules on the audit of intelligence funds that would specify the kinds of documents the COA would need.
She said she understood that there were intelligence-related expenses that could not be disclosed without compromising national security.
Thus, she said, before coming up with guidelines on intelligence funds she would consult with the government agencies concerned for their input on how to keep things confidential.
The COA also recently issued a circular reminding auditors of the rule against accepting benefits from offices they are auditing.
Tan said the circular was prompted by reports that some auditors had asked for cars, housing accommodations and other benefits from the agencies they were auditing.
As for the pre-audit, which is the practice of subjecting select government transactions to COA scrutiny and approval before these are entered into or implemented, Tan said she decided to do away with it because it had not brought much benefit.
A pre-audit is meant to ensure that transactions are aboveboard right from the start.
But Tan said the COA has received complaints the process had spawned instances where auditors had asked for something in return for approving a project.