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COA questions DPWH P0.5M TV set

/ 06:22 PM October 08, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Nearly P80 million of the Department of Public Works and Highways’ funds was used for unnecessary or extravagant expenses in 2010, such as a TV set worth almost P500,000 and P30 million in advertisements, according to the Commission on Audit.

Several DPWH projects were also overpriced by P76 million, the COA added.

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According to the COA, DPWH expenditures totaling P79.38 million in 2010 were “irregular, unnecessary, excessive or extravagant,” contrary to law.

Several of the questionable expenses were made in the first half of 2010, before the new administration took over, but the audit agency did not say when the other disbursements were made.

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The questioned transactions with specific dates involved the use of P30 million from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

The COA said that on June 25, 2010, the DPWH transferred P25 million to the Philippine Information Agency for advertisements to promote the achievements of the government in the infrastructure sector.

But because of the “circuitous and multi-transfer of funds” from the PAGCOR to the DPWH and to the PIA, the money was not properly accounted for, it said.

The COA also said that on June 8, 2010, the DPWH paid P5 million to Target Market Communications to show in 36 theaters the clip “Joyride, Highlighting the Milestones in Infrastructure Development.”

The transaction was backed by the cinema proposal and receipt issued by Target Market, but lacked evidence to support the propriety of the procurement process, such as evidence of bidding and other documents, it said. There was also no evidence to prove the showing of the advertisement in the theaters, it added.

Not only were these expenses unnecessary, they were also a “waste of government resources,” the COA said, adding that the DPWH should have focused on performing better rather than promoting itself.

“Instead of media promotions, the DPWH could highlight its accomplishments through good performance by ensuring that all infrastructure projects are completed on time and in accordance with project specifications; and public awareness on good governance will follow,” it said.

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The audit agency also questioned the purchase of P9.47 million worth of property and equipment in its Regional Office No. V, including a TV set worth P469,000 and two sets of blinds worth P297,909 which it described as “unnecessary and unconscionable.”

The regional office bought additional desktop computers and laptops that resulted in it having more computers than personnel. It also found the computers’ prices to be unreasonable.

The DPWH office also unnecessarily purchased high-end video cameras, even though the office could have used its video-capable digital cameras instead. Besides, video cameras are not that essential to the DPWH’s operations, the COA noted.

The COA also found that not all of the laptops, cameras and video cameras were in the office of the DPWH personnel.

The DPWH  spent P20.25 million for the unauthorized payment of salaries, wages, overtime services and allowances of its personnel, and spent  P2.1 million more for unauthorized honoraria.

These amounts were paid to personnel who had no specific work assignments or particular project accomplishments, and to those claiming to be representatives of public works personnel. The money was also used to pay for overtime services not supported by certificates of accreditation and without specifying the activity for which overtime work was rendered.

The other questioned expenses involved unnecessary travel expenses to submit documents that could have been sent through courier or fax; reimbursements for supplies and excessive purchase of equipment and other inventory items; irregular road right of way disbursements; an excess of security guards; and unnecessary maintenance and storage costs for unused equipment and waste materials.

The COA recommended that the DPWH order the officials concerned to justify the irregular disbursement of funds, and if they fail to do so, they should be made to refund the amount. It should also be more prudent in spending funds and should improve the supervision in the processing of claims.

As for the overpriced projects, the COA said the contract cost for six infrastructure projects exceeded by P76.33 million the allowable limit, or the COA estimated cost plus 10 percent.

Under COA rules, the total contract price of a project should be equal to or less than the COA estimate plus ten percent, in order to be considered reasonable.

The overpriced projects include flood mitigation works in Pampanga; bridge and road projects in Cagayan; and road concreting and road improvement projects in Central Visayas.

The audit agency said the DPWH should strictly follow the rules in preparing cost estimates for infrastructure projects to avoid excessive contract costs. It should also correct deficiencies found in the technical review and evaluation of contracts and in the inspection of projects.

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