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Media Statement By Workforce Singapore on the Auditor-General's Report

Workforce Singapore (WSG) treats all lapses highlighted by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) during its thematic audit of grants managed by WSG very seriously. Although we have put in place proper controls and guidelines to manage our grant programmes prudently and to prevent fraud, we acknowledge AGO’s observations that there are areas of improvement. Many of AGO’s recommendations to improve the robustness of our grant administration and management regime have since been implemented.

Ensuring good governance and outcomes for our programmes remains a key priority for WSG. For observations regarding our core programmes such as the Professional Conversion Programmes and Career Support Programme, WSG has conducted a thorough review of these programmes, including checking all cases beyond those sampled by AGO, to ensure that the lapses were not systemic. These additional checks, which are in the final stages and are scheduled to be completed by 4Q 2020, have not uncovered any systemic anomalies so far.  All monies wrongly disbursed have been recovered. For the three cases of possible fraud, we have referred them to the Police for investigation. WSG has also issued stern warnings to errant Programme Partners (PPs) who failed to comply with requirements for grants assessment and processing, and will not hesitate to take further action against recalcitrant PPs.

WSG runs more than 100 different programmes in more than 30 industry sectors to help Singaporeans attain better jobs and careers, and to support employers in growing their business. Since 2016, WSG has helped over 100,000 jobseekers get placed into jobs#. We agree with AGO that while there are operational reasons to provide some flexibility to the PPs in applying grant guidelines, we should ensure baseline requirements are met and adequate measures are in place to reduce inconsistency across the PPs.  We will strive to strike a careful balance between tightening controls and ensuring the effectiveness of our programmes across a very diverse and complex employment and labour landscape.

We will therefore strengthen our controls over and governance of all of our programmes. This includes i) enhancing our guidelines for PPs to ensure greater oversight and improve consistency of practice, ii) conducting more regular sampling checks on applications being processed, iii) expanding our use of digital systems and analytics to mitigate risks of fraud and abuse, and iv) developing a more stringent framework to deter non-compliance by PPs. WSG will monitor the effectiveness of these enhanced measures and implement additional measures where necessary. WSG remains firmly committed to ensuring the sound governance and effectiveness of our programmes and the prudent use of public funds.

 

#This was announced during Min/MOM COS 2020 Speech in March.