12 November 2012

Liberia: Malpractices' At GAC?

Activities at the General Auditing Commission have come in the prism of review and reflection days after 46 staffers were relieved of their posts due to what the new administration of Robert Kilby terms "overlapping of functions and budgetary constraints."

The reported unwholesome activities and malpractices reportedly allegedly championed by the new boss include the purchase of vehicle outside of the Procurement Act, employment of individuals on family and friendship basis and many others.

The African Standard an online news magazine in a statement released and cascaded to media entities has detailed some of the troubling activities at the GAC as the involvement of Auditor General Robert Kilby in acts that do not conform to set standards, ranging from the purchase of a vehicle outside of the Procurement Act, the employment of relatives and comrades and many more.

Besides that, he is accused of employing people who lack the professional wherewithal to perform the tedious task at the GAC while at the same time laid off those who underwent rigorous trainings in many fields of the profession here in Liberia and outside at the expense of the institution.

The magazine named the former Engagement Manager of NOCAL audit, Mr. Alieu Konneh, senior auditor Amos Borbor and overall audit boss Richard A. Wisseh as some of the experienced auditors fired.

Mr. Kilby is also accused of replacing his son, Stephen Weltee Kilby with Michael Gray of Grand Cape Mount County.

For example, the African Standard Magazine claimed Mr. Kilby has just hired 18 people, adding US$35,000 per month to GAC monthly payroll.

According to the report, these new positions were not budgeted for in the current 2012/2013 Budget

Some of the staffers hired by Mr. Kilby are named as Cornelia K. Green-Mason, Executive Assistant to AG with the reported salary of $3,000, Theophilus Julu, Manager Facility with the alleged salary of $1,000, Nathaniel Brumskine, Director of Communication with the alleged salary of $3,600, Stephen Weltee Kilby, Executive Driver with the alleged salary of $700 and Ebenezer Clanko Dunn, Messenger with the alleged salary of $700.

Others said to be hired by the new AG are Samford Dennis, Manager, Asset and Facility with the salary of $1,600, Melvin Zewey, Manager, Donor Fund with the alleged salary of $2,000, Gabrielyn B. Gbee, Expediter with the alleged salary of $700 and Tina D. Sarweh, Office Assistant also with the alleged salary of $700.

Others include Ida Mai Taylor, Manager, Logistics, with the alleged salary of $1,200, Naomi S. J. Fredericks, Office Assistant to the Executive Assistant, with the alleged salary of $1,000, Cornelius Waymah, Manager of Procurement with the alleged salary of $1,500, Varlee F. Sarnor, Executive Director of Administration, with the alleged salary of $4,000, Garmeh M. Browne, Director of Strategic and Operational Planning, with the alleged salary of $4,000, Sylvester Olando Jah, Director of Human Resources, with the reported salary of $2,600 and William K. Kruah, Comptroller with the unsubstantiated salary of $4,000.

Also, the GAC boss is alleged to have purchased a new vehicle from Prestige Motor at the cost of US$46,000 instead of the vehicle used by AG John Morlu which was bought at the cost of $35,000 at the expense of the Government.

Moreover, the auditor General reportedly signed a security consultancy agreement with the Elite Security Guard Service in the tune of US$105,300 for 26 months.

"Under the agreement, the Elite Security Guard Service is to manage the Auditor- General personal security including his residence. The agreement, which began on August 24, 2012, will continue until October 23, 2014," the African Standard Magazine reported.

"The contract indicates that the General Auditing Commission will pay a consultancy fee of US$4,050 monthly. Section II of the security consultancy agreement, under Nature and Range of the Consultancy, stated emphatically: "To execute and perform the tasks of providing maximum security protection to the Auditor-General and his private residence."

He said to have already paid six months in advance of the completion of the first year.

"The agreement is signed by Auditor-General Robert L. Kilby and Michael William, Chief Executive Officer of Elite Security Guard Service while D. Randolph Davis and Eric A. Kilby attested as witnesses. Both witnesses signed on October 12, 2012. Mr. Eric A. Kilby is living with Mr. Robert Kilby and he is not an employee of the GAC."

GAC's Director of Communications, Nathaniel Brumskine who was contacted later in the evening to speak to the allegation wittingly and unknowingly could not pick up his mobile phone having been rang twice.

Not stopping there, Mr. Brumskine was also text messaged around 7:00pm but took no interest in replying or responding to the text which read "Hi Sir; there are allegations levied against the GAC and you. Could you respond?"

However, a staff of the GAC who spoke with this paper could not deny or confirm the allegation but noted that was apportioned for some of the staff in question is far less than what Wesley Nanka approved for staff if he had become Auditor General.

Meanwhile, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) says it has ended a "cost cutting and restructuring review of the entire operations of the Commission" amidst prevailing global economic situation and its accompanying financial/budgetary constraints.

In a statement issued at the weekend, the GAC says the review process has resulted in both staff and logistics reduction, and added "It should be quickly pointed out though that the staff reduction affects only the Administrative Services and NOT the Audit services at GAC." "Additionally, unlike other staff reduction where staffers are simply let go, GAC exercise was a severance with each person receiving a severance pay (calculated at one month's pay for each year of service)."

The entity noted that the review exercise also addressed many overlapping responsibilities at the General Auditing Commission.

"The Review was able to establish that of the four hundred forty-seven employees that were at the Commission, fifty-five are currently on study leave; in China (10), Kenya (33), and the United States of America (12). Ironically a sizeable percentage of these students are not studying audit-related disciplines; not to mention that their full salaries continue to run."

In the same vein, the GAC said for the past five years, it was able to audit only fifty-nine (59) entities (an average of 3.122 percent of the required annual audits., and added "By law GAC is required to audit three hundred seventy-eight (378) entities annually; these include Government Ministries, Public Corporations, Liberian Diplomatic Missions around the world, Local County Governments, Banks, Donor Funds, entities which receive Government funds; i.e. grants in aid, etc..

It was observed that the lack of technology - IT Auditing in particular - in the audit process has severely impaired the General Auditing Commission's ability in the discharge of its duties."

According to the statement, there are presently one hundred (100) audit trainees and one hundred fifty-five (155) Auditors to audit; a scenario which is very far below the amount of auditors needed to do the job.

"The Commission's decision to do an up and down review of its entire operation is not unique. Every progressive institution (Government or private) does such review regularly," the statement under the signature of Nathaniel T. Brumskine, Director of Communications, said.

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