Auditor General’s Good Work Must Not Go to Waste [editorial]

Over the last couple of weeks, many newspaper pages have been filled with stories about the auditor general’s report on the performance of government institutions.

From Uganda National Examinations Board to Mulago hospital to Kampala Capital City Authority to Uganda Electricity Transmission Company, the auditor general has something to say about each and every public body.

Most of the queries relate to mismanagement within these institutions, often leading to financial loss to the government. However, in the end nothing much ever comes out of it.

Mr John Muwanga, the current auditor general, and his team, religiously file their report to parliament at around this time every year. The report then goes to the public accounts committee, which scrutinizes it and summons mentioned officers to explain.

Thereafter, PAC reports to the full house. What follows after that is not very clear. What we know is that by this time the whole process has lost steam and indeed very rarely do we hear of prosecution of a culpable public official emanating from it.

As a result, notwithstanding the wide press coverage, the auditor general’s reports and the proceedings in PAC that follow, often years later, are in danger of being perceived as an annual ritual that is of no consequence.

The fact that PAC often takes years to dispose of these reports makes a bad situation worse. Often, by the time PAC starts on a particular report, issues therein have been overtaken by events as culpable officials die, leave their jobs or clean up their mess.

After the auditor general has done his job, it should be incumbent on relevant organs, including parliament, to play their part. Parliament may not do it alone because apart from accumulating a backlog of reports, MPs are not really competent investigative officers.

Therefore, it would help if the auditor general’s report also went to the Inspector General of Government (IGG) andor the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) so that cases that call for prosecution are expedited by these competent institutions instead of gathering dust in parliament. Meanwhile, the head of public service can deal with cases that require disciplinary action.

The auditor general’s good work must not go to waste..

Source : The Observer