Unresolved audit issue

It’s quite common to hear government officials complain: “I’m willing to help but, if I do, Audit will fix me up.” This refrain is not an excuse to avoid work. Instead, this shows how nervous most officials get when dealing with the RAA.

This is unfortunate. This is unfortunate because all public servants actually accept and support the need to enhance responsibility and accountability in the government, especially when it comes to matters concerning use of public money.

Yet most officials are wary of the RAA. And it’s not because they fear getting caught doing something wrong. More often, it’s because most officials do not want to risk making unintentional mistakes, especially if they suspect that RAA could refuse the all-important Audit Clearance even for small mistakes.

And to make matters worse, no one seems to know how long a person will be held accountable for small infractions. For blatant offenses, even if they are small, I support making the perpetrator fully and unconditionally accountable even if the offense is detected years later.

But what if the RAA could hold you accountable for any mistake, including those made by your staff, many years after they take place and years after you’ve left the organization? That would, and should, make our government officials concerned, particularly if Audit Clearances matter.

What’s made me so concerned is a letter that recently arrived from MOLHR. That letter told me to sort out certain audit memos on possible lapses that occurred during my tenure, not with the MOLHR, but with the NTTA way back in 2001. The memos concern “other irregularities in advance” of Nu 11,000 and Nu 5,000 taken by Kakamo and Tenzin Dorji respectively, and are issued in my name because, in 2001, I was their “supervisor”.

Now I will take full responsibility for these irregularities, but consider this: between 2001 and today, the RAA must have issued several Audit Clearances to Kakamo and Tenzin. I certainly received many, the latest in order to contest the general elections last year. So what comes to my mind is this: why am I being told about this only now, years after RAA probably knew about it, and many years since I ceased to be their “supervisor”?

And where is Kakamo? She resigned sometime in 2003 to return to her village. And Tenzin? According to MOLHR he was suspended from service on other matters. I’ve already accepted that I won’t be able to find them. And, even if I do, they’ll find it difficult to remember lapses that occurred in 2001.

No wonder our officials can sometimes appear reluctant to help.

 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thats a very valid observation in our system. yes civil servants are not willing to take risk and most of all for the good of the system and the country.
    I think RAA should not be rigid on the prescribed rules but do some kind of sensible/ common sense driven kind of auditing.

    Such auditing will be achieved by employing qualified auditors not half educated lots with minimal common sense.

    moreover the internal audits in different agencies should be strengthened so that specialised performance auditing could be achieved within the agency.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Helping eachother has been a great value in the Bhutanese…. but sometimes helping has often been misused ( if you are talking about the same kind of help that i think).

    In the name of help
    ( altruism)….. many times people in authority has delivered ‘help’ beyond requirement.

    i mean in terms of approving permits or selection for a job or breaking lines in the hospitals and banks… and many more.

    In the name of help often times… people who know relevant people get by very easily including…. getting audit clearance even with an audit object so to speak.

    so i don’t really understand…. what is it that is being discussed at here..

    but if the question at issue is delivering and providing services…. there shouldn’t even be an audit objection.

    just a thought… just a though

  3. Anonymous says:

    There may be many many unresloved audit issues BUT if what we heard from the PM abou the Economic Policy of the government for the private sector stands true – then we are all in for some surprises and that too good ones!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    So, the question remains as to how Lyonpo got your post 2001 audit clearances despite the 2001 pending irregularities (as per the recent letter from MoLHR). Very strange, indeed.

    I think some of us tend to be careless and laidback in terms of acquiring full knowledge and understanding of the finance and audit rules and regulations. I remember myself (as an ex-civil servant) being illiterate in this matter. That’s because I myself didn’t bother to learn the details. I expected to be told and explained. No way! Nobody helps without ourselves helping ourselves to the help, or reaching out for the help. It’s even more gravely true in the case of entitlements.

    The other thing: I think auditors need to be regular in their recordings and, therefore updated thoroughly on who has cleared bills/advances and who hasn’t; and also, whether the financial rules and regulations have been followed. That should be their mandate, mena? If they have attended to their duties and responsibilities with utmost care, diligence and sincerity, there should be no lapses (such as, Lyonpo’s case). Otherwise, the integrity of auditors is questioned.

    And, may I ask what the responsibility of the internal audit unit within the ministry is? Who are they accountable to? Am a bit confused…

    (My response is relevant only for the uncorrupt.)

  5. Lobxang says:

    I think my comments on your blog regarding the banking issues paid off. I called up my bank today, and touched a ticking time bomb! Check out my experience on my blog 🙂

  6. Managers and supervisors are accountable period. It doesn’t matter for how long afterwards. And, it doesn’t matter whether or not one knew about the wrong-doings of one’s subordinates.

    Methinks the real issue here is the slow audit process, period.

    Sure, management and leadership mean a near-inhuman responsibility. That is why humility is critical in all who are asked to lead organizations and people.

    If in doubt, just think about why we love the Druk Gyalpo, and His Maesty the Fourth King, so much.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I suppose people are forgetting about the degree and the lengths of an entire gamut some individuals are made to run just to get an audit issue sorted out. It can be really frustrating when you are tangled up in a web woven entirely out of your own genuine urge to get an important official task done. Only when it catches up on you later, does one forcefully rethink the validity and the justification of undertaking and completing a task in the first place! “Irregularities” and “inconsistencies” on the part of the auditors themselves also abound. There are scores of instances where the very same personnel entrusted with auditing gave separate and varied judgments (or “observations”) over a period of time. And our system never had or has a mechanism to compensate a civil servant who has been a genuine victim of such lapses – unless, of course, he resort to the ultimate alternative of dragging an entire organization to court.

  8. I fully support RAA on their audit regulations but sometimes it makes getting things done very difficult. However, i am happy to inform you that two major project under HRD did not have any audit memos and the auditing process went smoothly. It was a big learning experience of us as well.

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