Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to go on a “hiring binge” so it could further fulfill its constitutional mandate of checking government expenditures.
The COA has 14,102 authorized staff positions but only 8,276 are filled, Recto said, citing 2022 national budget documents recently submitted to Congress.
He added that 30 percent of the spending watchdog’s workforce are “in the sunset of their careers”, making the recruitment more urgent.
“The infusion of young blood is made more urgent if we include the 2,487 COA personnel who are between 56 and 65 years of age,” he said in his statement.
“Kailangan ng mga millennials pamalit sa mga (Millenials are needed to replace) ‘millenniors’. Habang mahaba pa ang panahon (While there is still enough time) for the veterans to mentor the rookies,” he added.
State auditors are also “spread too thinly”, Recto said, noting 66,045 government offices and entities audited and an average of one COA personnel for every eight auditees.
The COA audits 341 state universities and colleges, 454 water districts, 11,816 national government agencies and government corporations, 36,608 local governments, and 16,826 other auditees, he noted.
The COA, he appealed, should be “more aggressive and creative in scouting talents.”
But Recto said the national government should also do its part by extending to the constitutional body all the financial resources necessary to perform its mandate.
He said the COA’s P14.4-billion proposed obligation budget for 2022 is “miniscule” compared to the over P5 trillion national spending plan for next year.
“Parang (It’s like) we are paying an audit fee of P2.87 for every P1,000 in expenditures. Sulit na sulit (It’s worth it). [A] Small price to pay for keeping government honest,” Recto said.
Recto said one way of making sure that COA will not run out of talent “is to train and sponsor future government auditors in college, whether they are taking accountancy or engineering courses.”
He said the program of producing physicians through scholarships can also be applied to auditors.
Like in the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act, Recto urged his colleagues to explore the possibility financing the education of auditors in exchange for working i the COA for a certain number of years.