Reimagining public sector audit information (Slide show)

The story behind the development of the Auditor-General’s Report Information graph, my end-of-career project. 


Many people want to give something back to society at the end of their career. Rich folks may do philanthropic work through foundations and charities. Some take on difficult causes like fighting corruption, eradication of diseases, alleviation of poverty or addressing the other millennium development goals. Others become volunteers in various movements. We should laud these efforts as they address the gaps in the official programs.

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Reimagining public sector audit information

The story behind the development of the Auditor-General’s Report Information graph, my end-of-career project. 
KK Aw (hires)_2

Many people want to give something back to society at the end of their career. Rich folks may do philanthropic work through foundations and charities. Some take on difficult causes like fighting corruption, eradication of diseases, alleviation of poverty or addressing the other millennium development goals. Others become volunteers in various movements. We should laud these efforts as they address the gaps in the official programs.

There are many professionals at the retirement age, who may not be wealthy, but have a wealth of knowledge and expertise accumulated over the years. It would be beneficial if they can put their know-how to good use in addressing societal problems. This was the situation I faced a few years ago and my decision to do an end-of-career project. Continue reading

Facilitating public contributions to the audit process

The Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, in his speech on Jan 24, 2017, stated that “The risk of fraud is inherent to any organisation. Right now, we are being exposed to seemingly endless cases of fraud and corruption in the public sector.” This is compounded by the incompetence, negligence, omissions, and so on in the public sector. It is more than likely that many cases are covered up by the organizations concerned and the reports published may only be the tip of the iceberg. The auditors may only discover these omissions if they are doing a forensic audit, otherwise, they have to depend on serendipity for their discovery.

However, some citizens may have personal knowledge of the weakness and problematic areas in the government projects or operations of the various public sector entities. These citizens may have worked or interacted with the projects or public sector entities. The knowledge they contribute could be important leads to the auditors for discovering cover-ups. It is important to note that this is not about whistle-blowing or leaking government information but providing leads for the auditors to follow-up.  

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Endless cases of fraud and corruption in the public sector

The Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang’s keynote address at the Combating Procurement Fraud in the Public and Private Sectors Forum 2017 in Kuala Lumpur on January 24,  was headlined as  “Public procurement most vulnerable to corruption, says Auditor-General” by The Malaymail Online and “Ambrin: Losses in publicly funded projects due graft” by The Star. Reading the two articles, I think a more appropriate headline could be “Endless cases of fraud and corruption in the public sector.”  Despite multiple measures taken to prevent this, the situation seemed to have become more alarming.

The AG lauded the efforts of the MACC to open investigation on a few cases over the last few months that involved millions of ringgits. He recommended the “strengthening the role of internal auditors, across- the-board auditing of procurement in government departments and agencies, and having more focused training on procurement management.” Continue reading

Towards accountability in the public sector (Write-up)

Almost everyone would agree that accountability is desirable for a clean, efficient and effective government. Without accountability, there is likely to be a trust deficit and It will be difficult for a government to function without trust.

Unfortunately, the reality is that few people would like to be held accountable, and they will resist any effort to hold them accountable. Accountability is a complex subject, and the related issues are well documented in the references provided in this article. The references are for jurisdictions like the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.  

A prerequisite for accountability is transparency or access to government data and information. In Malaysia, cabinet papers, discussions and decisions are by default under the Official Secret Act. Unless there is a major change of policy, there is little or no transparency or accountability at the ministerial level. Continue reading