HPB wasted S$5.39 million in excess fitness trackers: AGO audit

The trackers were rolled out as part of the National Steps Challenge.

Syahindah Ishak | July 22, 2021, 12:55 PM

The Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB) was found to have wasted S$5.39 million in its roll out of the National Steps Challenge, which ended between one to five years prior to the audit, according to the Auditor-General's Office (AGO).

341,000 excess fitness trackers worth S$5.39 million

In its annual audit of government accounts for the 2020/2021 financial year, AGO found that the wastage came from excess fitness trackers "not put to use".

Following this, HPB conducted a full stock count in January 2021 which showed 341,000 excess fitness trackers with a value totalling S$5.39 million.

AGO also noted that HPB's processes were "inadequate" to ensure that the movement of fitness trackers was "properly monitored" and that the stock of trackers was "properly accounted for".

AGO wrote:

"The receipt and distribution of trackers involved manual processes and multiple external parties. There was no central monitoring of the movement and stock of trackers; records maintained were were incomplete; and there was no periodic reconciliation of records with physical stock on hand."

Lapses found in other government ministries and agencies

AGO had also flagged lapses in other government ministries and agencies.

For the National Heritage Board (NHB), AGO found weaknesses in the records management of heritage materials.

There were discrepancies found in the records that were maintained in the systems and those maintained manually.

AGO also discovered erroneous claims, including claims paid to ineligible officers/pensioners and their dependants, related to the medical and dental benefits managed by the Public Service Division (PSD) for the Civil Service.

In its audit of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), AGO found that supporting documents for claims contained signs that they "could have been photocopies of one another with alterations made to the dates and duration of services rendered".

For the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), AGO came across a few instances where there were signs that supporting documents were "created" or "backdated to satisfy AGO's queries".

Following AGO's observations, the relevant agencies carried out investigations and lodged police reports where appropriate.

You can read AGO's full report here.

MHA addresses irregularities found in records

In a July 22 press release, MHA said that it takes a "very serious view" of the irregularities found in the records furnished for AGO's audit.

Police reports had been lodged "immediately after the cases were discovered".

MHA added:

"Vendors have been reminded that the creation or backdating of documents for audit is unacceptable. Internal investigations are also in progress and disciplinary action will be taken, should any officers be found guilty of such wrongdoing."

However, MHA highlighted that despite the areas that need improvement, the audit also found that MHA had processes in place to ensure that the planning, budgeting and determination of needs are executed properly, along with risk management and steps taken to mitigate those risks.

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