MANILA -- The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said that the P67.3 billion “deficiencies” flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) have been mostly resolved by DOH and its operating units.
The COA 2020 Consolidated Annual Audit Report covers audit findings until December 31, 2020, as such, most of these findings have already been addressed or are currently being addressed. The DOH Central Office (CO) has closely coordinated with all its operating units composed of 65 DOH hospitals, 16 Centers for Health Development, and 12 Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers, 2 bureaus (Food and Drug Administration and Bureau of Quarantine), and 1 laboratory facility, to provide information to the public on the status and actions taken regarding their respective COA findings.
Findings on fund utilization, recording of donations, grant of meal benefits, and compensation for HCWs already resolved
With regard to the reported unobligated allotment of P11.8 billion last 2020, most of these funds remained available for use in 2021 — P5.1 billion of this amount is part of the Continuing Appropriation of Bayanihan Act II, of which 83% or P4.2 B has been utilized as of June 30, 2021; as for the P4.7 billion under Foreign Assisted Projects (FAPs), this was requested for Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) in FY 2021 to pursue the unmet target of P3.4 billion.
The deficiencies noted regarding P1.4 billion in-kind donations for which hospitals missed the submission of summary reports or lists of donations have already been addressed. To date, concerned offices and facilities have provided the COA with the required listings and reports.
The COA findings on unauthorized grant of meal allowances have also been settled. The DOH sought approval of the Office of the President to provide the meal benefits through other forms, apart from packed meals. OP then approved the provision in cash equivalents through its Memorandum issued June 1, 2021 (see DOH Press Release issued August 15, 2021).
Lastly, with regard to the P4.8 million unpaid financial assistance to healthcare workers, this was already duly paid by concerned Regional offices. COA noted that claims for compensation benefits have not been paid at the end of the year due to varying valid reasons, such as lack of required documents.
However, this was immediately paid by the Regional Offices upon completion of the lacking documentation. The Department also reiterated adherence to existing processes across all implementing units.
Findings on fund transfers, procurement deficiencies, and unutilized medical equipment and supplies partially resolved
The P42.4 billion fund transfers were mostly to the Procurement Service (PS) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Philippine International Trading Corp (PITC) for the procurement of COVID-19 supplies. COA observed that the funds were transferred without a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), and despite delays in delivery of the procured medical equipment. The DOH responded that there is no need for a MOA for the transaction, since the items procured — PPEs, testing kits, and other equipment needed for the COVID-19 response have been classified as common-use supplies due to the pandemic.
While COA flagged that the DOH needed to wait for the liquidation of all pending procurements before transferring funds to the procurement agencies, the Department needed to ensure continuous provision of critical supplies, and had to make new purchases, while awaiting deliveries of previous purchases in order to ensure supplies and equipment for the COVID-19 response. Moreover, the DOH explained that the delays in delivery have been coordinated with the procurement agencies to ensure that the much-needed supplies are delivered immediately.
Out of the P5.1 billion procedural and documentary deficiencies flagged, the P2.5 billion have been addressed by the Procurement Service of the DOH Central Office. Meanwhile, the remaining P2.5 billion is currently being addressed by operating units in compliance with the COA recommendations.
COA also flagged P74 million worth of unutilized medical equipment and supplies. Included in this finding are equipment intended for COVID-19 but used in non-COVID wards, and delayed deliveries resulting in delayed utilization of procured items. To date, most of the determined “unutilized” medical equipment and supplies are being used based on the report of DOH hospitals. Additionally, deliveries of procured equipment have already been completed.
The remaining items in the COA report, including cash advances and petty cash funds, incomplete supporting documents relative to the death and sickness compensation, grant of various COVID-19 allowances, and management of Interim Reimbursement Mechanism funds are being addressed by concerned offices and operating units. The Department will likewise provide updates to the COA and the public as more information becomes available.
“As these findings are not yet final, we were given a period of 60 days to respond and provide updates on compliance with the recommendations by COA. But we will submit even before the deadline, “ said Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.
In the end, the DOH said that it will continue to work with COA to continuously improve its processes to better serve the Filipinos.
Moreover, the Department, together with its operating units, is actively addressing the remaining COA findings in order to ensure that taxes of the Filipino people and funds provided to the Department of Health are utilized efficiently. (DOH)