COA points out Ombudsman’s operational lapses

Published September 17, 2020, 9:43 PM

by Ben Rosario

Audited by another constitutional agency, the Office of the Ombudman has been found to suffer from operational lapses  that require immediate action by the head of the agency, including the increase in “carry over complaints” from 646 in 2017 to 2,466 the following year.

In the recently released 2019 Ombudsman annual audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) called the attention of Ombudsman Samuel Martires to “pursue vigorously the organizational restructuring” of the anti-graft agency.

 Auditors noted that there is a need for additional personnel to address the “unresolved carry over cases and complaints” and address the gaps in “low and mid-level core positions.”

 Further, COA urged Martires to act on the “need for talent mapping to improve core workforce ratio” and fill the gaps in the “organizaitonal design and workforce imbalance.”

“Moreover, two supervisory positions are being performed by rank and file employees and non-segregation of duties were noted at OMB-Mindanao,” the COA observed.

Audit examiners also flagged the transaction involving the construction of a four-storey annex building.

According to COA, the “legality, validity and propriety of payment” made to PLD Construction for  four progress billings of the P48.39 million infrastructure project “could not be established due to insufficiency of documents” required under Presidential Decree No. 1445.

Among the lacking  documentary requirements needed to support the payment of progress billings are the inspection report of the agency’s authorized engineer; statement of time elapsed, monthly certificate of payment, contractor’s affidavit on payment of workers and materials and pictures before, during and after the construction on every progress billing payment.

Reacting to the audit observation, the OMB Mindanao vowed to submit the required documents although it noted that there was an assumption that the requirement under COA Circular No. 2012-001 “were already repealed by the provisions under the IRR of RA 9184.”

In its rejoinder, the audit agency stressed that the said provisions of RA 9184 did not repeal the COA requirements.

“A total of 769 disbursement vouchers amounting to P66,038,462.33 were not submitted to COA within the first 10 days of the ensuing month incurring delays of 7 to 92 calendar days, contrary to the provisions of COA Circular No. 2009-006 dated September 15,2009, hence precluded the Audit Team from conducting timely audit,” auditors said.      

In reaction, the Ombudsman said it had already submitted the required documents. 

COA also reviewed the organizational structure and workforce of the Ombudsman, finding four issues that need organizational restructuring.    

Audit examiners stressed the need for additional workforce to be assigned to address “unresolved carry over cases and complaints.”’       

While requests for assistance, resolution of Fact Finding Cases and prosecution showed improvement in 2018 with carry over cases from 2017 showing a decrease, the 2019 audit indicated that carry over complaints increased from 646 to 2,466 or 21 percent of the total workload.

There has also been an increase in carry over forfeiture cases from 45 to 53 while criminal cases that remained unresolved also rose from 2,601 in 2017 to 2,801 in 2019.

“Administrative cases needing resolution also jumped from 2,608 carry over from CY 2017 to 2,837 in CY 2018, equivalent to 54 percent of 5,234 total workload,” the audit report bared.