THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: If there is a belief that the scathing observations of the Comptroller and Auditor General will jolt departments out of their slumber, it is a highly misplaced one. Fact is, the findings of the CAG, sent to government departments in the form of inspection reports, are largely ignored. Among the government departments, PWD, irrigation, forest and agriculture departments are the most unresponsive when it comes to acting on findings of the CAG. Together these four departments have not replied to over 625 inspection reports furnished by the auditor to heads of departments since 2011-12.
Agriculture and irrigation departments are the worst offenders with 208 and 198 IRs not replied to. Rules say that departments should furnish replies to IRs within four weeks of the date of the receipt of IRs. An internal review of the IRs pending due to non-receipt of replies, in respect of these four departments revealed that the heads of departments had not sent even the initial replies in respect of 48 IRs containing 290 paragraphs. In the last few years, the CAG has reported on several significant deficiencies in implementation of various programmes through performance audits as well as on the quality of internal controls in selected departments which impact the success of programmes and functioning of the departments.
These include findings about various road works, environment conservation activities, and policies to revive agriculture in the state. “After completion of audit of each unit, IRs containing audit findings are issued to the heads of the offices,” a top CAG official said. “The departments are supposed to do a quick internal probe about the audit findings, and furnish replies. But this is followed mostly in the breach,” the official said.
The Handbook of Instructions for Speedy Settlement of Audit Objections/Inspection Reports issued by the State Government in 2010 advises prompt response to the IRs. It states that the heads of departments and next higher authorities should comply with the observations contained in the IRs, rectify the defects and omissions and promptly report their compliance to the AG within four weeks of receipt of the IRs. Half-yearly reports of pending IRs, too, are being sent to the Secretaries of the Departments concerned to facilitate monitoring of audit observations.