Auditor revisits Gasboy-gate
(CNS): The auditor general will be publishing an updated report next week relating to the abuse of government’s Gasboy fuel card system. Alastair Swarbrick has revisited government departments to see what recommendations have been adopted and looked at new case studies to see if better practices are now in place to avoid the risk of misuse of public funds. In the original report Dan Duguay, the previous auditor general, found that some $500,000 could have been fraudulently obtained from government's fuel station in North Sound as almost a third of the transactions reviewed were suspicious. Swarbrick will be revealing the latest findings on Tuesday 5 June, when he will officially release the report which is currently under wraps.
In the first report the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) blew the lid on the potential fraud, which was facilitated by the failure of checks and balances in the card system being used by government employees. With little or no control over the system, Duguay said it had been severely abused, causing significant loss to the government purse. The original audit revealed that a significant number of the cards issued to civil servants to gain access to fuel were being held by people who had even resigned from government.
The potential fraud and abuse of public money came to the attention of the government’s own Internal Audit Unit within the Treasury Department which had examined the five biggest users of government's fuel depot, one of which is the RCIPS. However, this report was not made public until Duguay and his team took up the issue. Duguay said that when he examined this report he found that practically every control in place to monitor usage has been circumvented or inadequately controlled.
The fuel management system used at the Department of Vehicle and Equipment Services is a GASBOY card, which is issued to workers who need to fuel up public vehicles. The audit found that there were 1,600 cards in use at the time or one card for every person working in the public sector. Cards that were active were issued to people who had resigned and there were more than 100 incidences of two or more cards being issued to the same employee.
Management had lost control over who was using the cards and when, Duguay said at the time of the report. "The issue of fuel card distribution indicates a total lack of control and responsibility," Duguay said when he published the controversial report. He pointed to several red flags for that fraud, including multiple transactions on a given card in the space of one hour, as well as purchases on vehicle cards that were in excess of a vehicle's fuel capacity.
Public Works, the National Roads Authority, Environmental Health, Water Authority and the police were the biggest users, accounting for almost three quarters of the fuel consumed by government. At the time Duguay recommended that government take drastic steps to stop this potential for abuse and the current auditor general’s team has revisited these and other agencies in its update to find out what has been done.
During the Public Accounts Committee hearing that took place to examine Duguay’s report many of the witnesses representing the government departments denied the suggestion of fraud or misuse.
Police Commissioner David Baines, however, admitted that a criminal investigation was on-going regarding the abuse of the fuel cards while denying that there was significant abuse by RCIPS officers. He told the committee in May 2010 that detectives were following up on transactions made on one card in particular, but the police boss suggested the problem was poor management of the system and not that fuel had been obtained fraudulently.
Nevertheless, Baines conceded that he did not have enough officers to investigate the numerous transactions that were considered suspicious and no update has been supplied to the public regarding the investigation.
See original report below and be sure to check CNS next Tuesday for the auditor general’s latest findings.
|Fuel report 2010.PDF||717.84 KB|
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