But what happens when it is the Government itself which is found to have failed?
The National Research Fund is administered by the Board of the National Research Foundation (NRF) in the Prime Minister’s Office, under the National Research Fund Act.
In its 2012/2013 report, the Auditor General found several very serious lapses in the NRF, including:
a. A contract worth S$2.25m awarded without competition, “without reasonable grounds”.
b. NRF paid S$467,000 in honorariums to three unsuccessful tenderers for submitting their design proposals.
c. Lack of transparency in tender documents.
d. 108 instances of contracts for building works worth S$5.99m where no evidence that approval had been obtained.
e. Late payment to contractors for work done, this was in breach of the law.
The NRF, in response to the AGO report, said it “takes a serious view of the lapses and would spare no effort to prevent recurrence of such lapses.”
Several months after the AGO report, the Public Accounts Committee also expressed its concerns over the lapses found at the NRF and other ministries.
In its 2013/2014 report, the AGO said it conducted “selected” audits of the NRF but it is unclear what it found.
In his Budget speech yesterday, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced a “top up” of S$1 billion for the National Research Fund.
Besides assurances, who is to hold the NRF accountable? Has it recovered the sum of S$467,000, for example? And how did it award a contract without competition, which is against procurement rules?
This story was written by Andrew Loh and first published on his Facebook page.