COA bares more adverse audit findings in OSG this time uncovering irregularities

Published June 2, 2018, 6:57 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Ben Rosario

The Commission on Audit bared more adverse audit findings in the Office of the Solicitor General, this time, uncovering irregularities in the delayed implementation of the rehabilitation of the 11-story OSG building in Makati City.

MB FILE—Commission on Audit.
Commission on Audit

In its 2017 annual audit report, COA said the implementation of the project “Rehabilitation of OSG” building “may not be able to completely achieve its objectives” as a result of the non-assessment of OSG’s capability to undertake it.

The same audit report reflected findings that at least 15 officials and lawyers of the OSG have received allowances in excess of the allowable limits. Solicitor General Jose Calida was directed to return P7,46 million while the rest, the remainder of the excessive allowance.

COA also questioned the OSG for paying foreign lawyers at least P767.7 million in unauthorized attorneys and legal consultation fees.

This time, COA noted delays in the completion of a project aimed at addressing the dangers posed on the public by the OSG building.

COA revealed that the rehabilitation of the OSG building is vital since the said edifice is standing on the portion of the Marikina Fault Valley System and “is exposed to the hazard of earthquake and fire.”

Three components of the OSG rehabilitation project, namely the acquisition of generator seat at P1.1 million; structural investigation and engineering at P3.7 million and rehabilitation of firefighting equipment, at P9 million, were cited for irregularities in their implementation.

Auditors blamed the OSG for waiting for the approval of the Special Allotment Release Order for the generator set before carrying out with the procurement process.

On the other hand, the Consulting Services for the Structural Investigation and Detailed Engineer for the repair and Strengthening/Retrofitting of the OSG building was authorized to proceed only on January 11, 2018.

As of December 31, 2017 there remained no valid contract for the project yet obligation and funding was authorized under the 2016 and 2017 General Appropriations Act.

State audit specialist said this is irregular “as it was not covered by a valid contract as of December 31, 2017.”

Aside from the delay in the conduct of structural investigation and detailed engineering for the repair of the building, COA also noticed delays in the implementation of other activities that would have completed the workplace safety program for the OSG building.

The acquisition of P9 million firefighting equipment was also delayed because the OSG decided to tap the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management to undertake the procurement process.

“Lack of capability assessment and poor procurement planning resulted in the implementation of the project which deprives the government of the immediate benefits that it may derive thereform had it been implemented on time,” COA said.

The OSG blamed the highly technical nature of the consulting service” for the snail paced procurement process.

It also stressed that members of the procurement bodies are lawyers dabbling in nonlawyering jobs. These lawyers had “to give priority and devote more time to their regular lawyering duties.”