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DSWD chief issues memo on austerity measures on seminars, workshops in response to 2022 COA findings

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian has issued a memorandum reiterating the Commission on Audit’s (COA) guidelines on budget parameters for the conduct of workshops, seminars, training, and other official activities.

The DSWD chief’s memorandum was the result of the agreement reached during the COA exit conference last June 6, 2023, specifically on the audit observation on “the incurrence of irregular, unnecessary, and extravagant expenditure” of the Department’s Offices, Bureaus, Services, and Units (OBSUs) and Field Offices (FOs).

“Such practices not only undermine our commitment to fiscal responsibility but also hinder our ability to effectively utilize our resources for the interest of the DSWD beneficiaries,” Secretary Gatchalian said in his memorandum dated July 10, 2023.

The DSWD memo was in response to the COA finding that a number of regional offices of the DSWD spent a total of Php3.059 million for meals and hotel accommodations which were deemed ‘irregular and unnecessary’.

According to the COA report, the DSWD Field Offices in CALABARZON and MIMAROPA spent Php1.362 million and Php267,589 respectively, on meals and snacks during meetings of staff and employees.

In Davao Region, the DSWD Field Office spent P1.429 million for food and hotel accommodations for trainings and seminars in “expensive and luxurious hotels and resorts” despite the availability of other venues with lower rates.

To address these issues, the DSWD chief issued the “approved guidelines on budget parameters for the fiscal year 2023 pertaining to the conduct of workshops, seminars, trainings, conferences, and other official activities.”

“Strict compliance with these guidelines is enjoined. These guidelines shall remain in effect until a new set of guidelines is issued,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

The DSWD chief also directed all OBSUs and FOs to familiarize themselves with the COA Circular No. 2012-003, also known as the “Updated Guidelines for the Prevention and Disallowance of Irregular, Unnecessary, Excessive, Extravagant and Unconscionable Expenditures.”

“Let us show our commitment to upholding fiscal discipline and transparency, ensuring that our financial resources are utilized judiciously to achieve the Department’s goals and serve our beneficiaries effectively,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

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