Irregularities in management of equipment: RAA
Royal Audit Authority Audit finds irregularities in management and procurement of equipments meant for rescue and search for the natural disaster.
The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) had procured equipments amounting to Nu.16.602 million for search and rescue and other basic disaster related equipment through the government funding.
The audit was conducted with an objective to ascertain whether due regard was given in ensuring economy, effective and effectiveness in dealing with disaster management as well as ascertaining the extent of disaster preparedness of the country.
Most of the equipments, especially the search and rescue equipments had been distributed to all twenty Dzongkhags to facilitate basic search and rescue operation in emergency situations.
However, the Royal Audit Authority in a Performance Audit on Disaster Management from 2010-2015, found that the procurement system and physical verification of the equipment revealed lapses and inadequacies. It is found there are still large irregularities of government equipment supplied to prepare and implement for the major natural disaster.
The Disaster Management Information System was initiated so that it is being updated by focal persons from Dzongkhags. However, due to frequent reshuffle in disaster focal persons in Dzongkhags, many of them didn’t have training and awareness on use of search and rescue equipment. Those people who had been provided some basic training had forgotten what they learnt due to lack of refresher courses. As a result, the utilization of such equipment in times of disaster may be rendered difficult.
It was mandated in the Act, Emergency Operation Centers (EOC) is for receiving disaster alerts and communicating it along with instructions and information and facilitating response and relief operations. However, it was found non establishment of EOC. The EOC’s at the national level is yet to be constructed.
In the absence of EOC’s most of the equipments distributed were stored in poor conditions without proper storage facilities with instances of misuse, damage and breakage, specially the digital cameras and emergency communication sets. Ideally, the construction of EOCs should have preceded the procurement of equipment which could then be stored and managed properly. In fact, most of the equipments were meant to be installed at the EOC’s to coordinate response and recovery actions to resources during the time of disaster.
Further, there was also no proper accountability in managing the supplied equipment. RAA observed that the Dzongkhags administration had not accounted the equipment in the stock register maintained in the Dzongkhag. For instance, it has been found that there is no accountability for the lost cameras and damaged search lights that are non-functional.
It also transpired that there were no adequate feasibilities of consultations done prior to procuring certain equipment. For instance, the DDM had procured satellite phones at the cost of Nu. O.232 million, which was not utilized since it was registered with the Bhutan Telecom Limited (BTL). Further, an electric power generator procured costing Nu.0.420 million was found out of order and not usable, RAA reported.
T he report also pointed out that DDM had not carried out proper need assessment prior to investing in equipments. It is further stated that the way the equipment was managed revealed that there is minimal regard for the scarce government resources, which literally led to wastage and mismanagement of the government funds.
The audit was conducted primarily in the Department of Disaster Management (DDM)/ Secretariat of the national Disaster Management Authority which functions as the national cording agency for the disaster management including the operations of the Dzongkhags and other relevant government agencies involved in disaster management activities.