25 January 2013

South Africa: Govt Welcomes AG Report On Consultants

Pretoria — Government has welcomed the office of the Auditor General's report, which it says provided useful and relevant information on the use of consultants by government.

On Thursday, Deputy Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu announced that eight national government departments had spent R24.6 billion on consultants in a three-year period.

Makwetu said a performance audit (which seeks to determine whether funds were well spent) had been conducted on eight national government departments. The other 34 national government departments had not been focused on in the audit.

The departments were selected on the assessment of possible weaknesses in the use of consultants based on historical problems.

The report which covers the financial years of 2008/09, 2009/2010, and 2010/11 also focuses on whether goods and services were acquired economically, and whether they were applied for efficiently and effectively.

This kind of audit, said Makwetu, was done when problems were identified in regulatory audits which are conducted annually.

The eight departments are: Correctional Services; Defence; Environmental Affairs; Health; Police; Rural Development and Land Reform; Transport and Water Affairs.

While it noted the report, government also noted the recommendation of the report to improve control measures in order to get best value for services provided by external consultants.

Ministers and the heads of administration of affected government departments have already engaged extensively with the Auditor-General South Africa and have committed to take immediate action to remedy the current situation.

Acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) acting CEO Phumla Williams said the recommendations set out in the report will be appraised and implemented where needed.

"The role of the auditor-general is important to the country in providing independent assurance that governmental activities are carried out, and accounted for. Government is committed that the processes for appointing consultants will be strengthened and compliance with related legal frameworks and regulations will be applied," she said.

Within the three-year period, national and provincial departments spent R102 billion on consultants.

Provinces spent R68.5 billion on consultants over the three-year period. A report on this, Makwetu said, would be available at a later stage.

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