Proposal to Enhance Audit Processes Training and Introduce Harsher Penalties in Light of Public Officers Fabricating or Altering Documents for Audit13 Sep 2021
Parliamentary Question by Mr Sharael Taha:
To ask the Minister for Finance in light of the instances of public officers fabricating or altering documents for audit (a) how prevalent is this practice in the public service; (b) whether there is ongoing in-service training for public officers to ensure that they are familiar with audit processes; (c) whether there is a need to enhance these training for public officers; and (d) whether there is a need to introduce harsher penalties for public officers to act as a deterrent against future lapses.
Parliamentary Reply by Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong:
Over the past five years, there were five cases of irregularities in the documents furnished for audit by public officers. While this is a small number compared to the huge amount of documents submitted for audit, we take a serious view of these offences.
Public officers undergo regular training and milestone programmes throughout their careers. The training covers learning points from audit observations and good practices. The Finance and Procurement Academy was set up last year to better equip Public Officers with finance and procurement skills including governance and internal controls.
All public officers are also required to take an annual Code of Conduct quiz that aims to refresh and reinforce officers’ awareness and understanding of the key conduct principles and the behaviour expected of all public officers as they carry out their duties.
Apart from training, there are a number of Whole-of-Government platforms to communicate common audit findings, root causes, remedial measures and learning points to all agencies across different levels of seniority.
Integrity-related misconduct are viewed seriously and penalties meted out to officers found guilty of the misconduct include dismissal and demotion. Police reports are made in serious cases where we have reasonable grounds to believe that officers have broken the law. The vast majority of public officers serve with integrity and perform their duties to the best of their abilities.