Press Release
September 10, 2013


The Commission on Audit (COA) is undermanned and their staff is overworked but the agency has a 42% unfilled position, the senate committee on finance today found out.

At the agency's budget presentation today, Senator Chiz Escudero said the authorized COA staffing is 15, 219 but its filled rate is only 8, 737. This leaves 6, 482 unfilled positions for 2013.

Escudero, chairman of the senate committee on finance said this wide margin of vacancy is a cause for concern, which he said even COA itself is alarmed.

"The COA is doing its job. In fact the government has saved up a lot by what the COA does in terms of auditing services".

With only 57% filled position, the senator asked the commission if "it could have rendered more auditing services and could have detected the misuse of funds" if it has more people to do their mandate. Heidi Mendoza, COA Commissioner who presented the agency budget said they could have used more personnel to double their output than their current ones.

COA cited difficulty in getting accountants to join the agency as the reason for vacant positions remaining unfilled.

The agency has generated almost P2 billion of savings from these unfilled positions. Having been given a fiscal autonomy, the amount was already disbursed to them. When asked how it utilizes this lump sum amount, COA said this is being used to augment their maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).

"Can you furnish us how this amount augments your operations? Where else does this go?" Escudero directed COA.

The senator also asked the agency who audits them. "Forgive me if this maybe a unique question, but who audits COA maam"?

"We have our own auditor and as I mentioned a while ago, our own auditor issues audit observation addressed to us" Mendoza replied.

Escudero said it is quite awkward that the agency is being audited by one of its own where the nature of check and balance might be put in question.

"But your auditor reports to you too? I mean, they are under you, where is the check and balance? Again this is no allegation, no accusation, just out of curiosity".

Mendoza said the set up has been that way since COA was established. She said the agency tries to preserve the independence of its auditors "and in fact when they have audit observations, we too conduct exit conference and discuss the issues one by one, but we understand that reality".

Escudero said if COA has been self-auditing since its inception, it could look and adopt international auditing practices and standards to apply not only to themselves but to the government wide system as well.

"COA said they have been rolling out international standards in auditing system. Be that as it may, Congress may still find ways to improve their current system to remove any doubts and fears and to also maintain the check and balance between their auditor and themselves".

The agency's budget hearing has been deferred by the committee because some senators who were not present today manifested their intentions to ask questions regarding COA's budget. The hearing will be rescheduled second week of September, Escudero said.

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