KUALA LUMPUR: Government auditors have been given the green light to report irregularities directly to the Auditor-General under a new measure to tackle corruption.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan said while auditors would still work directly under the director-generals of their respective ministries, they have now been given direct access to the AG to ensure accountability.
“More immediate corrective measures in audit findings can be taken rather then waiting for the A-G to complete his report one or two years later,” said Low after launching the Third Annual National Procurement and Integrity Forum, organised by the Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance.
He said the move was similar to the corporate model, where the chief internal auditor does not report to the chairman or chief executive but to the independent director.
Low said as a further check and balance, government internal auditors could now meet ministers without the presence of other civil servants.
He said the government was also stepping up the recruitment of integrity officers for every government ministry.
These officers are either being seconded from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) or are civil servants, who are being retrained and redeployed to the new role to tackle corruption.
“While they work in each ministry, they have to be independent. Otherwise they will be absorbed into the same culture and structure,” said Low.
He said the position of integrity officers allowed them to bring up irregularities to the minister, the MACC, the Cabinet or even the Prime Minister if necessary.
Low said internal auditors and integrity officers are a vital part of the Government’s Integrated Framework To Combat Corruption because they would be able to propose substantial changes.
“These are not cosmetic but institutional changes because we are putting in place checks and balances,” he said.
Low said the government was taking significant steps to improve the integrity of the procurement system.
As an initial reform, there will be no more direct negotiation in government procurement, except in cases of emergency or where the product is available under restrictive intellectual propriety.
“All direct negotiated procurement (if any), with the exception if those of security or strategic interest, will be published online,” he said.
He added that all procurement would be made under open tender and safeguards would be put in place to ensure that awards are given on merits of the submissions.