Thu | Sep 24, 2020

More public scrutiny for education ministry, CMU

Published:Tuesday | January 7, 2020 | 12:13 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter

Tasked with the responsibility of being the guardian of public expenditure, the Auditor General’s Department (AuGD) says it will, this year, conduct and complete about nine audits for tabling in Parliament.

It is expected that an audit on governance arrangements at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and the beleaguered Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) will be completed by the AuGD for tabling in Parliament in the first quarter of the calendar year.

In an earlier audit that was tabled in Parliament in July last year, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis found that the education ministry engaged the CMU in nine multimillion-dollar school construction contracts without following the procedures set out by the Government.

In November 2019, Monroe Ellis told members of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee that the CMU had submitted to the education ministry variations costs amounting to $59 million for doors, windows, and stiffeners as part of design-and-build contracts at nine schools across the country.

Checks and balances

Several performance audits of a number of public bodies have been targeted for 2020. Performance audits examine the management systems and procedures of government agencies to assess whether the entities are achieving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the employment of public resources.

The St Catherine Municipal Corporation and the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation are on the auditor general’s radar for performance audits this year.

Other entities highlighted for performance audits are the HEART Trust/NTA and the cash-strapped Jamaica Urban Transit Company. The Ministry of Tourism will also face the scrutiny of the auditor general’s team this year as they carry out a performance audit of the ministry.

The AuGD will also conduct information technology audits of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency and the Ministry of Local Government to, among other things, examine the effectiveness of the Government’s Applications Management and Data Automation system.

The web-based application is aimed at improving ease of doing business with municipal corporations and key government agencies, and providing greater transparency in the development approvals process.

Another public body, the Jamaica Library Service, will also come under scrutiny when the AuGD conducts a compliance audit at the agency.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com