PARLIAMENT– Legislators on the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has ordered for forensic investigation into Uganda’s payroll system after the auditor report unearthed a number of anomalies.
The directive followed a meeting held between the Committee and a team from the Ministry of Public Service who had been summoned to provide responses to audit queries raised in the 2015/16 Auditor General report.
In the report, Auditor General noted that Government contracted two firms for the supply, installation, design, implementation and commissioning of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) for a contract price of USD4,437,817 approximately Shs16,703,560,562Bn on July 31, 2009.
According to the breakdown, the Supply, Installation, Implementation, and Commissioning of IPPS for Phase one cost USD 2,363,347, and the second phase cost USD648,889, while the recurrent costs of the IPPS for Phase I was USD1,053,469 and the recurrent Costs of the IPPS for Phase II was 372,112 bringing the total to USD4,437,817.
During the investigations, Auditors established that Phase I IPPS business application support contract expired in October 2016 while Phase 2 expired in April 2018 with the key deliverables under phase came with all the Human Resource, Payroll and Pension functionality operational in a live environment and with final user acceptance.
However, by the close of phase one, only one module out of the planned nine had attained full operational functionality. The rest of the modules were not implemented due to bugs detected by users; implying that final user acceptance testing was not done properly.
Additionally, the issue of interoperability between the IFMS and the IPPS is still a challenge and has led to major losses of funds at various entities resulting from the manual upload of salary data to the IFMS.
The report highlighted that despite these shortfalls, the supplier was fully paid and commissioned to embark on phase two of the project with the auditors pointing out that the matters point to weaknesses in contract management by the Ministry, which may ultimately impact on the attainment of all the envisaged objectives of the project.
When questioned about the matter, the Ministry explained that there were challenges encountered during contract management but currently, four modules are operational and the others are still undergoing reconfiguration by the vendor.
But the explanation was rejected by the Auditors pointing out that this reconfiguration should have been done under phase one of the contract and went ahead to caution Ministry’s contract management team to exercise best practices so as to ensure fulfillment of contractual obligations and attainment of envisaged objectives.
The discovery infuriated the MPs, with Angelline Osegge, PAC Chairperson ordering for a specialized audit, “Let us recommend for a forensic audit, I would want to know who was responsible for the procurement and who did what in the whole process, if they are walking on the face of the earth they must answer.”
The report also pointed out double payment of death Gratuity quoting section 19 (b) of the Pensions Act CAP 286, which provides for payment of death gratuity of an officer who dies while holding a pensionable office and this shall be the amount computed.
Following decentralisation of the pension and gratuity payments, the Ministry processed 284 death gratuity files through the IPPS and forwarded them to the respective Votes for subsequent payment.
Payrolls worth Shs4,921,961,176 were sent out to 82 votes for payment of death gratuity; however, due to a system weakness, the lines were all duplicated.
As a result, some votes paid the beneficiaries twice leading to a financial loss at the vote level and in a letter dated July 4, 2016, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Service requested the affected votes for a review of all payments and recovery of funds where double payments were made.
The Ministry explained that all unresponsive cases to the Inspector General of Government and has since instituted measures of reviewing the interface file before sending it to the Votes.
Additionally, Shs42,038,479M was paid as gratuity to a Ministry of Public Service pensioner in June 2016; however, the Auditors weren’t provided with a pension file relating to this payment with the Auditors expressing doubts on whether the payment was rightfully made.