School Feeding Programme Audit Underway
School Feeding Programme Audit Underway Website
The Ghana Audit Service (GAS) has begun a nationwide audit of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP). The exercise will cover activities of the programme at all the 975 beneficiary schools, the national secretariat, the national warehouse and the project office at the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment for the 2006 and 2007 financial years. The audit will focus on areas such as sources of funding, cash management, with particular attention on the transfer of funds to beneficiary schools; procurement, with particular attention on the award of contracts; stores management, with particular attention on the storage of perishable and non-perishable items; project management, with particular attention on project monitoring and evaluation; as well as payroll and other staff costs. The Assistant Auditor-General in charge of Special Audits, Mr. Kwamina Ghansah, who made this known to the Daily Graphic on Monday, said the exercise was expected to be undertaken over a five-month period, ending in September; 2008. The GSFP has been the subject of intense public discussion in recent times following the release of a report on an audit of the programme undertaken by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, a private audit firm. Armed with the findings of that report, the Committee for Joint Action (CJA), a political pressure group, launched a campaign for the removal from office of the Executive Chairman of the GSFP, Dr Kwame Amoako-Tuffuor, accusing him of financial malfeasance. Dr Amoako-Tuffuor was soon after relieved of his post. The audit undertaken by PriceWaterhouse Coopers and the furore the report generated seem to have watered down the relevance of the exercise to be undertaken by the GAS, but Mr Ghansah strongly disagreed With that suggestion. He said although the data the GAS would collect might not be different from what PriceWaterhouse Coopers collected, the difference might come from the presentation of the data, citing the classical "half bottle full and half bottle half empty" analysis to buttress his point. Mr Ghansah said the GAS was the only institution with a constitutional mandate to Audit public accounts, saying that since the school feeding programme was a government-funded programme, the GAS had the mandate to audit its accounts, irrespective of a private audit that had already been carried out. He said the GAS was further mandated by the Constitution to present its reports to Parliament and said the PriceWaterhouse Coopers report did not make any difference. Mr Ghansah said the relevance of the GAS auditing also lay in the various issues raised by the CJA on the PriceWaterhouse Coopers report, suggesting that the report was not conclusive, for which reason the committee had called for further investigations. "This needs additional work. We will take time to investigate all the issues raised," he said. During the five-month period of the audit, officials of the GAS will collect relevant information through structured interviews with . officials of the school feeding programme and the supervising ministry, as well as make references from documents on the programme.