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COA hits delays in implementation of P398-M PAGASA project

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration's (PAGASA) over delays in the implementation of a P398-million project meant to upgrade the state weather bureau's data transmission that can be helpful in times of disasters.

State auditors noted that the P398-million fund was transferred in May 2017 to the project's implementing agency, the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT).

"The transfer of funds of P398 million since May 17, 2017…had no recorded liquidation reports and information as to the implementation of the project for almost two years. The long outstanding balance would show that the funds were not translated into project output/deliverables," the COA said.

The project has two phases:

Phase I: Establishment of a network that will provide high data through digital transmission and reception and connect the Weather and Flood Forecasting Center to 6 PAGASA regional services divisions from the north up to the south, stretching from Aparri up to Zamboanga Radar

Phase II: Establishment of linkages (last mile) and connectivity of field stations to their respective regional forecasting centers as well as with the Weather and Flood Forecasting Center in Quezon City.

"These will ensure voice connection as well as data connection between host and client terminal/servers for various IP services that includes access to Decision Support Information Systems," the audit report said.

It added, "Fast and efficient access to various data and information will be provided to any field station which can also be provided to local government units involved in disaster management (Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office) and related offices."

But according to COA, the DICT spent only P5.2 million or 1.31% of the P398 million, "indicating inefficiency of the DICT to implement the project."

The COA then required the immediate submission of liquidation reports and the memorandum of agreement's terms of reference, as well as the monitoring of the status of the project's implementation.

While PAGASA agreed with the audit recommendations, it said the full amount has been deposited by the DICT to the Bureau of Treasury and only P20 million was initially released to the DICT for the project implementation.

"We maintained our position that since the agency had requested funding for a disaster related project, the amount appropriated should be translated into project outputs/deliverables for the timely completion of the project at the advantage of the government and the general public beneficiaries," the COA said. – Rappler.com