Doidge to clean up Public Works after qualified audit

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cape Town - Minister of Public Works Geoff Doidge today announced the launch of a systematic process to clean up his department after it was given a qualified opinion by the Auditor General (AG).

While a forensic auditing firm will conduct an audit of all internal processes since March 2005, a consultancy - Simeka Consulting is to be contracted to conduct a probe which would run until March 31 next year.

The consultancy, which Doidge said had previously done work for the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Department of Defence, would second senior personnel to the department to effect a skills transfer.

A service-level agreement was expected to be signed with the consultancy this week.

Doidge said the clean up included among other things the clearing of all expense accounts; weeding out of duplicate payments to service providers and getting the long overdue Property Management Trading Entity (PMTE) up and running. The department was requested by the National Treasury three years ago to have the entity set up.

Doidge said the PMTE would be established as a trading entity in the next two weeks, with the aim of seeing returns in the coming years.

The clean up would also scrutinise building and construction costs; probe rental and lease agreements; check that governance processes complied with the terms of the Public Finance Management Act and ensure that government departments on whose behalf the Department of Public Works had conducted procurement settled their accounts with the department.

Doidge said he was of the view that "drastic measures" needed to be taken to effect a change in the department. "If we don't do an indepth investigation now, we'll never win.

"As Minister I am committed to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to address this situation," he said.

He announced that as part of the department's commitment to collectively working towards refined internal systems and healthier finances, he had met with all senior managers in the department consulting with them on the way forward.

"My custodianship makes it important that together with the accounting officer and senior managers, we identify specifically what is wrong, set up mechanisms with which to correct these wrongs and ensure that in the long term, things work in such a way that policy objectives can be achieved."

He said the findings of the two processes, which will run parallel, would form the basis for putting in place proper internal control systems to ensure that the issues reported by the AG in his report this year, were not repeated.

"The AG's qualified opinion has revealed the wrongs and it is now up to us to right these wrongs. This is a responsibility senior management of the department cannot and will not run away from."