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OCG finds 63 undisclosed CDF programmes

Projects selected during audit of NWA, parish councils

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 13, 2014    

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THE Office of the Contractor General (OCG) says that an audit of projects financed by the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) since 2012 has revealed 63 projects implemented through the National Works Agency (NWA) of which the OCG was not aware.

According to the OCG, 16 such projects were found in St Ann, 11 in St Catherine, nine in Kingston and St Andrew, eight in Westmoreland, five each in Hanover and St Elizabeth, four in Portland, three in St Mary, and two in St James.

The OCG said that no "undisclosed" projects were found in Clarendon, St Thomas or Trelawny during onsite inspections carried out by its auditors between December 2012 and early 2013.

The contractor general's latest report, which was tabled in Parliament last month, said the "undisclosed" projects were selected during its audit of the main implementing agencies for CDF projects, namely the NWA and the parish councils.

According to the contractor general, in December 2012 the office wrote the implementing agencies, informing them that it intended to conduct site visits to verify the extent and quality of works which were being undertaken for assigned beautification/employment generation projects.

"In response, some implementing agencies informed (the OCG) that they were unaware of the approved projects and, in some instances, indicated that the requisite funds were not received from the Constituency Development Fund Programme Management Unit (CDFPMU), or that directives were not received from the member of parliament's office to execute works," the OCG said.

The OCG explained that, in light of this, it selected 18 constituencies and conducted visits to specific sites where works were executed, or were scheduled to be completed, between December 2012 and January 2013.

There is no known requirement for the CDFPMU, which operates out of the Office of the Prime Minister, to inform the OCG of all contracts entered into and implemented using CDF resources. However, the OCG has consistently insisted that no state official or person can obstruct its attempts to monitor any component of the Government's contract award process.

The OCG pointed out that the scope of the audit focused on: identifying any irregularity or impropriety in the selection of works and contractors for the projects; and, to determine whether implementing agencies were aware of, and adhered to, the CDF operational procedures of September 2008 and the revised CDF operational procedure dated January 17, 2011.

"Audit initiation letters, with questionnaires attached, were dispatched between September and October 2012 to all NWA offices. The questionnaires requested information to determine, among other things, whether the contractors were selected by way of a fair and competitive procurement process; whether accountable officers were aware of, and guided by, the CDF operation procedures; whether there is an internal procurement policy which governs the implementation of CDF projects; whether there are third-party influences involved in the procurement process and implementation of projects; and the record-keeping activities of the projects.

The OCG decided to review 452 projects, including 434 physical infrastructure works, 13 disaster recovery and mitigation projects and five related to economic enablement. Visits were made to all NWA parish offices, except Manchester, as that office had not implemented any projects in the period under review.

No further information on the audit's revelation of these "undisclosed" projects is likely until the OCG has completed auditing all the parish councils and tables a report.

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