CAG reports anomalies in the accounts of IT units, telecommunications ministries, Telecom News, ET Telecom

New Delhi: India’s Comptroller and Auditor General on Monday reported multiple irregularities in the accounts of units under the Ministries of Informatics and Telecommunications, including purchases of hardware and software worth Rs 890 crore by NICSI in violation of the rules. In his audit report for fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) pointed out anomalies in the decision taken by the state-owned telecommunications company BSNL, C-DoT, the Ministry of Post, ITI Limited and CADC which had negative financial implications.

“NICSI purchased hardware and software at a cost of Rs 890.34 crore through the ‘Strategic Alliance’ route in violation of 2005 general financial rules and ministerial instructions and therefore failed to ensure the transparency and competitiveness of the procurement process ”, according to the CAG report submitted to Lok. Sabha Monday.

Prior to September 2015, the National Informatics Center Services Inc (NICSI), which provides IT infrastructure to government departments, procured using AS (Strategic Alliances) based on the approval of its board of directors. , but without obtaining a PAC (Proprietary Article Certificate), It said.

“This was in violation of rule 154 of the GFR, 2005 and subsequent instructions from MeitY of June 2014,” the report added.

According to the rules cited by the CAG, procurement from a single source can be used in cases where only a particular company is the manufacturer of the required goods, and / or for the standardization of machinery or spare parts on the based on advice from a competent technical expert. and the approval of the competent authority.

NICSI had approached the Expenditure Department (DoE) for the inclusion of a Strategic Alliance (SA) as the process of purchasing and delivering ICT goods and services (including solutions).

The DoE, while not specifically authorizing the incorporation of SAs into the General Financial Rules (GFR), told NICSI in August 2015 that it had no objection if it entered into a strategic alliance in accordance with the rule. , on the condition that before placing each order, it provide PAC.

The report indicates that as of September 2015, NICSI sources its supplies from a single source. A verification test revealed that these were supplied and used without stating clear, specific and convincing reasons according to the format prescribed in the GFR, for procurement from a single source.

The NICSI and the Ministry of Electronics and Informatics (MeitY) in their response explained to the CAG their rationale and the timeline for adopting the SA route.

According to the responses, the NICSI made these purchases based on the PACs and after receiving the advice of the DoE.

CAG said that although NICSI claimed that it subsequently purchased goods and services from a single source only after obtaining the PAC, a PAC verification test showed that due diligence was lacking. both when providing and accepting PACs.

In addition, MeitY himself admitted (September 2019) that common items worth Rs 133.55 crore had been purchased as part of the strategic alliance, although they may have been purchased by through pricing contracts or open tenders, ”the report says.

The CAG also reported delays, shortfalls and the non-establishment of laboratories by the Telecommunications Engineering Center (TEC).

It recommended that a high-level technical committee of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) review the condition of all nine laboratories and develop a plan for their completion as soon as possible.

The CAG said that due to delays and the failure to establish the required laboratories, TEC could not ensure the creation of an appropriate testing infrastructure within a limited time frame to support its mandate as a testing agency and of DoT certification.

In the case of the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), the CAG declared that the autonomous body disbursed an ad hoc bonus in the amount of Rs 97.70 lakh for the years 2015-16 and 2016- 17, even if no order has been issued by the Ministry of Finance for the payment of an ad hoc premium.

“This has resulted in irregular payments which must be recovered from the affected employees or regularized,” the report said.

He also observed that the National Electronic Governance Division (NeGD) had failed to comply with government instructions regarding the publication of advertisements in print media through the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Advertising (DAVP ), resulting in the avoidable payment of Rs 1.21 crore to agencies other than DAVP.

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