MANILA, Philippines — With four vacancies in every 10 personnel positions, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to go on a “hiring binge,” saying auditors are “spread too thinly.”
COA has 14,102 authorized staff positions but only 8,276 are filled, Recto said in a statement, citing 2022 national budget documents.
Aside from this, he further pointed out that 30 percent of COA’s workforce is already in the “sunset of their careers” or nearing retirement.
Recto stressed that “the infusion of young blood is made more urgent if we include the 2,487 COA personnel who are between 56 and 65 years of age.”
“Pag inaudit mo ang workforce nila, ang conclusion ay 30 percent of COA auditors are in the sunset of their careers,” he said.
The senator called on COA to be “more aggressive and creative in scouting talents.”
“Kailangan ng mga millennials pamalit sa mga millenniors. Habang mahaba pa ang panahon for the veterans to mentor the rookies,” he said.
But Recto added that the national government should also do its part by extending to the constitutionally independent body all the financial resources it needs to fulfill its mandate of checking if public expenditures are in accordance with the law.
He said COA’s P14.4 billion obligation budget for 2022 is “minuscule”
compared to the over P5 trillion proposed national budget
“Parang we are paying an audit fee of P2.87 for every P1,000 in expenditures. Sulit na sulit. Small price to pay for keeping government honest,” Recto added.
While COA counts 5,405 Certified Public Accountants in its ranks, there are professions required in audit which are “underrepresented” in the organization, the senator also said.
“One example are engineers. COA only has 401. Sadyang kulang sa panahon na P1 trillion a year na ang ating annual infrastructure spending. When we build, build, build, we also audit, audit, audit,” Recto added.
With 66,045 government offices and entities audited, Recto pointed out that COA auditors are “spread too thinly,” with an average of one COA personnel for every 8 auditees.
COA audits 341 state universities and colleges, 454 water districts, 11,816 national government agencies and government corporations, 36,608 local governments, and 16,826 other auditees, he noted.
One way of making sure that COA will not run out of talent “is to train and sponsor future government auditors in college, whether they are taking accountancy or engineering courses,” according to Recto.
He said the program of producing physicians through scholarships can be applied to auditors as well.
This approach of financing the schooling of auditors in exchange for certain years of COA work is worth exploring, Recto added.
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