Shock report on govt IT systems

2011-10-13 00:00

THERE is poor control of financial IT systems within all KwaZulu-Natal provincial government departments and insufficient back-up to protect vital department records.

This was a shortcoming pointed out by the Auditor-General’s office after the 2010/11 audits were completed. The A-G’s overview report was presented to the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) this week.

Democratic Alliance Scopa spokesperson Mark Steele said lack of controls over the computer systems should alarm every citizen of this province. Steele said it means that departments are not controlling who has access to financial records, which could be changed or falsified to cover up fraud and corruption. In the event of a major disaster insufficient backup exists to protect vital departmental records.

Steele said it was the first time he came across an instance where there was 100% non-compliance. Normally some departments have better control and security, but in this case every department in the KZN provincial government has shortcomings, he said.

The A-G’s overview showed an improvement in the audit results. Departments with clean audits increased from four to five. Those with unqualified audit opinions but with findings on performance objectives or regulatory compliance decline from nine to eight, while those with qualified opinions declined from four to three.

Steele said these improvements, while a cause for minor celebration, are overshadowed by the lack of IT control.

He added that another area of concern is that about 50% of all instances of unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure were only identified by the auditors during the audit and were not initially reported by the departments in question.

Steele said this suggests there are serious deficiencies in the ability of departments’ internal audit units to identify and act on possible irregularities.

He said Scopa will meet the provincial audit and risk management committee to explore what can be done in this area.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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