New COA Chairperson Jose Calida assumes office

Newly-appointed Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Jose C. Calida formally assumed office as Chairperson on Monday, 4 July 2022. He was warmly welcomed by COAns led by Commissioner Mario G. Lipana.

In a briefing with senior COA officials, Chairperson Calida assured the careful scrutiny of government accounts and warned auditors against shenanigans. “COA auditors should correctly scrutinize and carefully inspect accounts. But be careful. I am warning anybody in COA that if there are shenanigan and mischievous activities, I will boot them out. But those who are earnest in their work will remain in this Office,” he said.

Chairperson Calida invoked the same “win, win, win” mantra of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for the Commission, reminding everyone that the OSG had won all cases filed in the Supreme Court during his stint as Solicitor General. He also vowed to reward valiant COA officials and those who work hard.

Prior to his appointment by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Chairperson Calida served as Solicitor General under former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte since July 2016. He served as Undersecretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) from 2001 to 2004. As DOJ Undersecretary, he was in-charge of the National Bureau of Investigation, Witness Protection, Security and Benefits Program, Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, DOJ National Task Force on Terrorism and Internal Security, and DOJ Task Force on Financial Fraud and Money Laundering. He was also head of the DOJ Action Center which extends free counseling and assistance to the public, especially to indigents.

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Clarification on the use of the phrase ‘Highest COA Audit Rating’

Given the misconception that the use of the phrase “highest COA audit rating” may cause and its potential impact to decision makers and the public, the Commission on Audit (COA) would like to clarify again that an audit opinion should not be viewed as a rating, score or grade, with ranking of lowest to highest.

An audit opinion pertains only to the financial audit conducted regularly by COA auditors on the agencies within its jurisdiction. It may be unmodified or modified, depending on whether an agency’s financial statements are prepared, in all material respects, in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework.

An unmodified opinion (also referred to as unqualified opinion) is issued when the auditor concludes that the financial statements are prepared, in all material respects, in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework. Meanwhile, a modified opinion – includes qualified, adverse and disclaimer of opinion - is issued when the auditor concludes that, based on the audit evidence obtained, the financial statements as a whole are not free from material misstatement; or is unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to conclude that the financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatement.

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International environment audit body features COA’s Citizen Participatory Audit

INTOSAI WGEA published in its website an experience sharing report on COA’s CPA approach.

The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) published an experience sharing report prepared by the Commission on Audit (COA) on its Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) in the context of environmental auditing.

INTOSAI WGEA commended the COA for its innovative approach to environmental auditing, involving citizens in taking part in the collection and analysis of data, writing reports, drafting inquiries, and generally acting as an integral part of auditing work.

The INTOSAI is the professional organization of SAIs in countries that belong to the United Nations or its specialized agencies and is an internationally recognized leader in public sector auditing. The WGEA’s key goals are to increase the expertise in environmental auditing globally and enhance environmental governance with high-quality contribution and visibility. According to INTOSAI WGEA, "the organization is very proud of the SAI Philippines output as this new innovative approach on environmental auditing involves the participation of citizens in audits and is in line with the Work Package 6 on experience sharing and capacity building of the INTOSAI WGEA Work Plan 2020-2022."

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Outstanding audit performance recognized

The Commission on Audit (COA) recognized COA officials and employees for their outstanding audit performance as well as excellent work ethic and loyalty at the annual Salutes the Best program on 5 May 2022 as one of the highlights of the 123rd COA anniversary celebration.

The audit team composed of Auditors Marilou P. Sumcad, Famela L. Manibog, and Jessy James B. Briones of COA Regional Office No. VI was awarded the Gawad Kahusayan for outstanding performance. The Audit team took the initiative in overseeing the extent of implementation of the DAO No. 2004-24 dated 24 August 2004 which provides for policies and guidelines in the management of foreshore areas under the jurisdiction of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Office (PENRO), Capiz and in the enforcement of its provisions for the collection of rental/occupancy fees from the occupants who operate businesses at the coastal areas of Roxas City and three municipalities in the Province of Capiz. The team emphasized the uncollected annual rental fees aggregating to P35.774 million in estimated uncollected rental fees from CY 2013 to CY 2019 and later resulted to total collections amounting to ₽21,709,720.15 for CY 2021 alone which is way above the average annual collections. The breakthrough in the financial operations of PENRO-Capiz has paved the way towards a more aggressive campaign launched by the agency in order to generate sufficient income to sustain future developments of foreshore areas to benefit future generations without being solely dependent upon the support of the national government.

The Gawad Karangalan Level II was conferred on Mr. Gerald M. Mendeja of the Information Technology Office, Administration Sector. Mr. Mendeja spearheaded the development of various information and application systems in support to the operation of the different offices in the Commission, including the COA Project Reporting of Infrastructure Schedule Monitoring System (PRISM) which is an application designed for monitoring, evaluation, and reporting of different government infrastructure projects through different platforms such as web and mobile. PRISM was the entry of the Commission to the Hackathon BPK Competition held by the Audit Board of Indonesia with the theme “Hack for Accountability and Transparency.” Mr. Mendeja led the COA team which won first place at the professional level of the said competition.

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