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.