By Ben Rosario
The Commission on Audit (COA) has opposed a House of Representatives measure that will impose deadlines in the conduct of audit examinations and the resolution of auditing and legal controversies on cases.
Stressing that COA is merely protecting the right of the state “to recover illegally and irregularly disbursed funds”, COA Asst. Commissioner Elizabeth Zosa urged the Lower House to understand the agency’s job is not only to audit state expenditures but also to adjudicate cases brought before it.
During a recent hearing conducted by the House Committee on Laws for the consideration of House Bill 6761, its principal author stated that his bill merely wants COA to achieve “success and operational efficiencies” by putting time limits in completing the agency’s goals.
HB 6761 seeks to provide a two-year prescriptive period within which COA may conduct audits and issue decisions on cases.
“It is unfair to require agencies and offices to churn out documents for projects that have been implemented five to ten years ago when COA itself miserably failed to conduct timely and /or visitorial audits,” said principal author Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Sagip Partylist Rep. Rodante Marcoleta explained.
“An agency’s success and operational efficiencies are always on the time limits of the goals as well as their completion. There cannot be an any better assessment for a job if the set time for which it has to be completed is not met,” said Marcoleta
He noted that COA seems to follow no time frame and that it acts on its own discretion. He asserted that COA should no longer conduct post-audits five to 10 years following the issuance of the notice of disallowance.
Zosa clarified that there are timelines stipulated in the 2009 Revised Rules of Procedure as well as Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.
Zosa appealed for the consideration of COA’s two main functions, which are the auditing and the adjudicating functions.
The COA official assured the committee that the auditing process does not take years to be accomplished. However, she noted that upon auditing, the Commission would need a considerable time to reach a final decision on certain cases.
Aside from the notice of disallowance being subject to appeal, Zosa said that the presence of several adjudicators within COA also poses a lengthier finalization process.
“We are thankful for the honorable House Members who are helping us. Of course, we welcome any help because we are all one in promoting the general welfare of the public that we serve. But we have to work within the framework of our system. Also, we have to balance the rights of individuals with the rights of the state to recover funds which are illegally and irregularly disbursed,” stated Zosa.