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COA: P92.9 million in laptops, tablets for DICT cybersafe learning project undistributed

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) was unable to distribute P92.9 million worth of laptops and tablets for the Cybersafe Learning for Education (CLE) Project, the Commission on Audit (COA) said.

In its annual audit report on the agency, state auditors said that the DICT failed to identify beneficiaries for the CLE Project before the acquisition of laptops and tablets, with eight percent or 866 laptops and 30 percent or 12,482 tablets undistributed and laying idle for four to 17 months.

CLE Program Phase 2, COA said, was vital in the furtherance of learning interventions in formal, informal, and non-formal education that aims to close the gap between all socio­ economic classes.

"There are no exact actual beneficiaries identified when the procurement was commenced," said the COA. "What is attendant is the information drive that the Department has available ICT devices for distribution.

"Yet without initially identifying actual beneficiaries, the procured units may be more than the recipients resulting in oversupply and overstocking, such as in the case of the procured ICT devices of 866 laptops and 12,482 tablets which were not yet deployed due to the absence of actual qualified beneficiaries."

All in all, the undistributed 866 laptops and 12,482 tablets were worth P92,967,800.

The DICT, in the same COA report, said that the devices were allocated to several beneficiaries but not yet released due to the deficiency in complying with the engagement requirements of the Department, such as the requirement for the contact person and some other documentary requirements to be furnished by the intended beneficiaries.

State auditors also said they were also informed that the distribution of the ICT devices was conditioned on the letter request from any of the targeted beneficiaries then for evaluation and screening if qualified.

Once the request was made, compliance with the engagement requirements shall ensue.

Verification and confirmation

COA, meanwhile, said that, to date, the DICT had not yet submitted its monitoring and status of deployed ICT devices report which was necessary for post-evaluation of the CLE program to assess the effectiveness, impact, and relevance of the project.

"Assessment is crucial to determine if the project was suited to the needs of beneficiaries, the teachers and students and others, and the identification of the problems encountered and proposed solutions," state auditors added.

COA also said that DICT had not yet submitted the deed of donation or memorandum of agreement as well as other documents necessary in the distribution/transfer of ICT devices for verification and confirmation that the deployed units reached the targeted beneficiaries, with the receipts properly recorded in their corresponding books of account.

"Property Transfer documents are necessary for recognition of the distributed ICT in the books of account of recipients, and thus proper custodianship such as accountability, responsibility, and liability over such property shall be established in order to prevent loss, misuse, and damage," COA said.

"Thus, in the absence of listed distribution and its monitoring status, post- evaluation assessment is impossible."

In closing, COA said there was a need to fast-track the distribution of the ICT devices in consideration of the rationale behind Department Circular No. 12 stating that "with the impending opening of classes and courses within the DICT and other different sectors, and the widespread inability to conduct traditional classes and coursework for the year 2020- 2021 and beyond, without unduly exposing the learners, students, teachers, and administrators to the fatal risks associated with COVID-19 infection, the Department recognizes that time is of the essence for urgent and immediate measures to address the negative impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency."

"Hence, the distribution for the targeted beneficiaries should have been streamlined in order to urgently address the needs of the beneficiaries originally aimed to be utilized in CYs 2020-2021 , not to mention that prolonged holding of the gadgets may lead to its obsolescence," COA added.

COA reported that the DICT agreed to the following recommendations made by state auditors:

  • require the Chief Accountant and the Property Officer to demand the submission of the Property Transfer documents for derecognition in the books of accounts and the Property Records of the transferred property;
  • strengthen the information drive on the availability of the ICT devices and coordinate with the DepEd to identify the number of students and teachers who need ICT devices and gadgets and hasten the evaluation of requesting agencies/organizations/units for immediate distribution of the ICT devices; and
  • request a copy of the distribution list of the direct beneficiaries of receiving agency/organization; and henceforth, ensure that identified list of actual beneficiaries was determined before initiating the procurement activity to guarantee that all the procured ICT devices shall be distributed and to prevent over-stocking.

GMA News Online has reached out to DICT Assistant Secretary for Communications Anna Mae Lamentillo for DICT's response to the COA findings but she has yet to reply as of posting time. — DVM, GMA News