‘Gasboy’ still being abused
(CNS): Full story -- Government has done very little to mitigate the risk of abuse of its fuel card system, Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick has found in his latest report, despite the revelations in 2010 by his office about the potential loss of some $500,000 per year to the public purse. In the latest report on the GASBOY fuel card system, published Tuesday morning, many of the problems first identified by the internal audit unit and exposed by the former auditor general have not been addressed. Swarbrick said that although the five agencies included in the first audit have made progress, the recent examination of a further twelve government entities has found many of the same failures and mismanagement.
He said he had found 97 gas cards still assigned to ex-employees within ten of the departments audited, some 65 cards assigned to employees who have no business need to have them and 28 employees with more than one fuel card issued in their name.
“I am disappointed that appropriate action has not been taken across government in the last two years to develop better practices for the distribution of fuel,” said Swarbrick. “The opportunity for abuse of the system is still a significant risk today.”
The report found that the overall control of the environment has not improved, leaving the system vulnerable to abuse and fraud.
However, Swarbrick did point to some significant improvements in the first five agencies reviewed in the original report. These entities were the highest consumers of fuel and most had acted on the recommendations of the previous auditor general, Dan Duguay, by addressing the surplus cards in circulation, documenting policies and procedures for fuel management and improving controls.
According to the work of the internal unit, the police, the Public Works Department, the Water Authority and the National Roads Authority all made efforts to address the problem. However, despite frequent requests for information, the Department of Environment Health failed to respond and the audit office was unable to establish if any measures had been implemented to stop the abuse, Swarbrick said.
The DoEH is the largest consumer of fuel of any government agency and although the department did not cooperate with the auditor general, according to its spending figures, since the last report it had reduced its fuel consumption by over $11,000. Between January 2008 and March 2009 the DoEH spent $48,714 on fuel, but between July 2009 and June 2010 that had dropped to $37,554.
The latest report shows that across government fuel spending has fallen by over $475,000. Although this was close to the figure which was estimated to be the amount being lost as a result of abuse and mismanagement in the original report, Swarbrick said the fall could also be as a result of other issues, such as fluctuating fuel costs as well as better controls by the top five users.
But Swarbrick pointed out that the same problems remained among the other agencies which were not previously assessed, even though many of themare in the same ministry as those in the original audit. Swarbrick said it was disappointing that the recommendations had been ignored by other government entities despite the widespread knowledge in the ministries of the recommendations.
“It is clear no one took responsibility in the rest of government to implement the recommendations,” Swarbrick said as he added that government had a duty to prevent abuse of public funds. “Action wasn’t taken across government, so there is still a significant risk.”
However, he said he was encouraged that the deputy governor has now made a commitment to take the lead on the issue and tasked all chief officers to implement the recommendations ahead of the introduction of a new system of fuel management expected to be in place by the end of next month.
|Fuel Card Usage and Management Audit Final report_2012.pdf||472.31 KB|
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