Hired help add to a R2 bln bill
07 Mar 2013
Philda Essop and Sapa
CAPE TOWN — Consultants appointed to monitor consultants contributed to expenditure totalling R2,036 billion by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) between the 2008 and 2011 financial years.
Vincent Smith, chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee on correctional services, said this called for a message to government officials that they can still be prosecuted for irregularities, even if they are no longer employees of the state.
He was commenting on the large sums of money spent on consultants shortly after the committee had received these figures from the office of the auditor-general (AG).
Gratitude Ramphaka, senior manager in the office of the AG, said that a total of 27 projects were audited. Some consultants were used for up to 20 years.
Among other things the AG found:
• The number of IT consultants increased from 51 to 106 in two financial years. Vacancies in that unit stood at 65% at that stage.
• Consultants were appointed to monitor other consultants in nine projects.
• Payments to the state information technology agency were not monitored by the department in terms of its service agreement. Consultants were consequently paid R18,5 million more than the contract value.
• An amount of R11,7 million was paid to a consultant three years ago to install a new IT server and provide relevant training. Three years after the deadline, the project has still not been completed.
• A total of R21 million was spent on a consultant to create an IT network infrastructure. Five years later, the project has still not been implemented.
• The cost of accommodation, meals and a venue for a training programme for junior and middle management staff came to 267% more than the actual training costs.
Ramphaka said various officials had approved the transactions.
“Of course, some went all the way to the responsible officer.
“Some were approved by that officer, but then deviations from the approved mandate occurred.”
Smith said the DCS has not had stable leadership of late, owing to the succession of commissioners it has had over the past few years.
“We really do have to send out a message that if it happened during your term, and you are no longer in the department, we have to be able to prosecute you,” said Smith.
The matter will be discussed by the standing committee on public accounts next week.