Gauteng dept to audit its employees' list

Friday, October 9, 2009

Johannesburg - The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development is to conduct an audit of all its employees after it was found that an amount of R7.1 billion had been paid in compensation to staff who no longer worked at the department.

The employees who received the compensation could not be ascertained as the Persal system had not been updated. This had resulted in employees whose contracts had expired, still being reflected on the list of employees.

Gauteng MEC for Health and Social Development Qedani Mahlangu said the auditing process would involve the payment of staff by cheques, where they would provide their identity number and evidence of employment.

All files of employees are also going to be updated, she said.

The R1.7 billion amount was one of the queries in the Auditor-General's report for the financial year 2008/09 for the provincial departments of health and social development, as they were separate entities at the time.

The departments were merged after the elections into the new integrated department of health and social development.

The former Department of Social Development received an unqualified opinion, while the former Department of Health received a disclaimer of opinion from the Auditor General's reports.

The Auditor General identified overpayments relating to the implementation of the occupation specific dispensation for nurses, weakness in the awarding of contracts, the management of assets and adherence to procurement protocols.

Significant backlogs were identified relating to the capturing of leave and the institutions indicated that Gauteng Shared Service Centre often sent them leave forms of employees who were not in their institution.

"We find this situation completely unacceptable and we are putting measures in place to ensure that those who are responsible for this sad state of affairs are held accountable," Mahlangu said.

The Department of Health was found to have incurred and unauthorised expenditure of more than R1 billion and irregular expenditure of R1.9 million which was incurred due to procurement process not followed appropriately.

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R2.2 million was incurred by the department for defective work on the construction of facilities by the former Department of Public Works Roads and Transport, the report found.

The department was also found to have under spent R68 million on the HIV and Aids conditional grant and R35 million on the hospital revitalisation programme.

Mahlangu explained that the under expenditure on the hospital revitalisation programme was caused by the cancellation of the contract to build Zola Hospital as well as the late finalisation of procurement of equipment for Chris Hani Baragwanath and Mamelodi hospitals.

"The shortage of staff and slow submission of invoice was responsible for the under-expenditure on HIV and AIDS. More staff will be employed at district level to speed up the payment of invoices," she said.

Mahlangu accepted the finding of both reports, saying the department would develop a plan to correct the deficiencies identified by the Auditor General.

"Every directorate in the department has been instructed to develop business plans to avoid the recurrence of unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. We are also reviewing policies and procedures currently in place," said the MEC.

She said the department had instituted a forensic investigation to determine whether there was any impropriety and collusion between employees of the department and suppliers.

The MEC called on those with any information that may be of assistance to the investigators to come forward.

"The department will not hesitate to take disciplinary action including criminal action should anyone be found to have acted improperly and in contravention of regulations and statutes such as the Public Finance Management Act," Mahlangu warned.