MPs slam Treasury over 'thumb suck' report on failed IT system

Members of Parliament have slammed Treasury for failing to present the long-awaited forensic report on the failed integrated financial management system (IFMS).

Treasury Director General Dondo Mogajane on Tuesday was meant to brief the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on the outcomes of the probe into the IFMS, which cost the state over R1bn so far.

The IFMS was meant to upgrade and modernise government departments' information storage systems, secure financial information across departments and eventually improve each department’s efficiency, Fin24 previously reported.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Scopa chair Themba Godi stressed the importance of the programme succeeding. He referred to the first version of IFMS, which dates as far back as 2009, as a "bay of pigs" which had failed and resulted in a loss of time and resources. The second version of IFMS was not much different which warranted investigations.

The first investigation by Deloitte, which found no wrongdoing, was discredited and Treasury then commissioned Nexus Forensic Services to conduct a second probe into the failings of the programme. This investigation commenced on February 1, 2018 and National Treasury Director General Dondo Mogajane for the first time received the final report from investigators on August 28, the committee heard.

Mogajane told Scopa that the 421-page report is final "as far as forensic investigators and the audit committee" are concerned. However, Treasury has not yet signed off on the report as there are still material issues which need to be clarified - such as the interpretation of the application of regulations, processes and methodology.

Further, the report has not yet been made available to individuals who are directly or indirectly implicated in the investigation or named in the report, Mogajane said. "The key for me is the report is not final. It makes it impossible to distribute the report to Scopa and affected individuals. At some point, we will have to make it available to them for input and comment, it is standard process and procedure," he said.

Mogajane highlighted that the report even makes recommendations that he take action against certain individuals and companies, but it is only fair that they get an opportunity first to view the report and submit their comments.

'Thumb suck report'

However, ANC MP Mnyamezeli Booi made it clear that the committee was not happy with being briefed on a "thumb suck" report.

He also said Treasury had failed in ensuring the delivery of a capable state because of the failed programme. Booi criticised Treasury for taking so long with the matter, as IFMS started in 2009.

He said the presentation before the committee was a "cooked report".

Inkatha Freedom party MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said Treasury's reasons for delaying the submission of the report was a "cop out", and questioned why Treasury travelled all the way from Pretoria, knowing they would not present the final report. He called for the report to be made available to Scopa so that parliament could decide a way forward on the matter.   

Similarly ANC MP Ezekial Kekana asked for the report as it is be made available to Scopa, before it is "doctored".

Mogajane told Fin24 on the sidelines of the briefing that Treasury does not undermine Parliament, as was suggested by other MPs.

"Parliament is an important institution, it must keep us accountable at all times, and we really appreciate such engagements. Their oversight will improve the kind of work we do," he said.

"It is important to note that we are not going to 'cook' anything. I am not in the business of cooking any report. It is unfair of some members saying we are going to cook the report," he told Fin24.

"All we want to do is to ensure we approach it fairly to all parties, and in a way that we are not taken to task at a later stage."

Treasury will make the report available to Scopa this week and the parties will reconvene on December 5.

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