Press Release
August 24, 2021

COA must go on hiring binge to fill 5,826 job vacancies while 30% of auditors near retirement

Four in 10 personnel positions - or 5,826 - in the Commission on Audit (COA) are vacant, a manpower lack that will be aggravated when 1,000 personnel who are in the 61-65 age group retire.

"That's the equivalent of 10 Army battalions," said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto in underscoring the spending watchdog's staffing shortfall.

Citing 2022 national budget documents, Recto said COA has 14,102 authorized staff positions, of which only 8,276 are filled.

Recto said "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."

"Pag inaudit mo ang workforce nila, ang conclusion ay 30 percent of COA auditors are in the sunset of their careers," he said.

Recto called on the COA to be more aggressive and creative in scouting talents.

"Kailangan ng mga millennials pamalit sa mga millenniors. Habang mahaba pa ang panahon for the veterans to mentor the rookies," he said.

But he said the national government should also do its part by extending to the constitutionally independent body all the financial resources it needs to fulfill its mandate of checking if public expenditures are according to law.

Recto said COA's P14.4 billion obligation budget for 2022 is miniscule compared to next year's P5.037 trillion national spending program.

"Parang we are paying an audit fee of P2.87 for every P1,000 in expenditures. Sulit na sulit. Small price to pay for keeping government honest," Recto said.

While COA counts 5,405 Certified Public Accountants in its ranks, there are professions required in audit which are underrepresented in the organization, Recto explained.

"One example are engineers. COA only has 401. Sadyang kulang sa panahon na P1 trillion a year na ang ating annual infrastructure spending. When we build, build, build, we also audit, audit, audit," Recto said.

With 66,045 government offices and entities audited, Recto said COA auditors are spread too thinly, with an average of one COA personnel for every 8 auditees.

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.

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 be applied to auditors as well.

This approach of financing the schooling of auditors in exchange for certain years of COA work is worth exploring, Recto said.

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