COA flags town’s P8.4M payment for 90 ‘clean and green’ workers

By Gerome Dalipe IV

Did the job-order personnel of the Pavia municipal government still sweep the road, cut grasses, or water plants even during heavy rains?

The answer is in the affirmative as observed in the findings by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its 2022 annual audit report.

Such among other “doubtful” practices were noted by the state auditors in their report on Pavia’s “Clean and Green Program” wherein about 90 job-order workers were employed from January 1 to December 31, 2022. The municipality paid a total of P8.478 million for the salaries of the workers.

The town passed the appropriation ordinance on Dec. 29, 2021, which intended to cover the wages of the 90 workers of the “clean and green program” amounting to more than P7 million. The workers’ duties and responsibilities included the maintenance of national highways, provincial roads, and municipal streets.

During the conduct of the inventory of the job-order personnel, the auditors said that a logbook was being maintained by the program coordinator to monitor daily attendance and accomplishments.

However, the auditors said the daily time records (DTRs) and accomplishment reports attached to the payrolls were not signed by the coordinator responsible for monitoring the workers.

The auditors interviewed one of the job-order persons and learned that for instance, in one barangay, the logbook was filled out by only one individual and the other personnel just signed their daily time records for submission to the town’s Human Resources and Management Office.

The auditors also noted that there were entries in the employee’s daily time record even on days when heavy rains were recorded.

That was an indication, the auditors noted, that daily time records attached to the liquidation reports were insufficient proof that workers were reporting for work.

It was also noted that, except for the names and signatures, all accomplishment reports of the job-order workers were exact duplicate copies.

All the 90 job-order workers performed the same duties such as sweeping, cutting grasses and shrubs, watering plants and planting ornamental flowers.

Verification by the auditors of the job-order workers’ contracts showed that the schedule of work and places of assignment or station were not indicated. Hence, the necessity for hiring many individuals cannot be established.

“Premises considered, the observations above rendered the validity and propriety of payments for the services of job-order workers doubtful,” read the COA report.

While the auditors acknowledged the necessity for the municipality to hire those personnel, the auditors said such authority must be within the ambit of good governance, or administrative necessity “to ensure efficiency of fund spending and temper any propensity of abuse.”

“Corollary to this is the responsibility to ensure that the hiring of job order personnel must be anchored from valid and reasonable grounds such as but not limited to fund availability, and actual necessity so as not to prejudice governance, public funds, and service delivery,” the auditors said.

In the report, the auditors asked the mayor to direct the program coordinator to affix her initials to the daily time records and accomplishment reports of the workers to ensure that entries therein were duly monitored and verified.

The job-order workers were also directed to prepare accomplishment reports specifying their actual duties performed and deliverables to substantiate the payment of their wages.

The human resources head was also directed to include the actual schedule of work and places of assignment of the job-order workers assigned in the program to justify actual necessity.

Likewise, the state auditors also asked the town’s program proponent to reassess the need for hiring 90 job-order workers to perform the redundant daily tasks.