Furnishing of ATNs, Replies on Audit Paragraphs to AG
Inaction creating hurdles in ensuring transparency
JAMMU, Oct 16: There is no end to the dilly-dallying approach on the part of most of the Government departments in furnishing Action Taken Notes (ATNs) and Replies on Audit Paragraphs featuring in numerous reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India despite explicit directions issued on the intervention of the Chief Secretary. In this way, the concerned authorities are creating hurdles instead of facilitating transparency and accountability in the system.
The Finance Department vide Circular No.PAC/Misc/ 570/97/118 dated June 9, 1997 had issued instructions to all the departments of the State Government to intimate to Public Accounts Committee/ Committee of Public Undertakings, the action taken or proposed to be taken on the Audit Paragraphs featuring in the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India irrespective of the fact whether these are taken up for discussion or not.
The instructions interalia included furnishing of suo-moto Action Taken Notes by the administrative departments vetted by audit on all the Audit Paragraphs included in the Audit Reports within three months after their presentation in the State Legislature.
However, there was no strict compliance to the instructions of the Finance Department for years together and later the General Administration Department vide Circular No.37- dated July 26, 2017 reiterated the directions to all the administrative departments mentioning that inaction on their part was creating impediments in achieving the objective behind the detailed exercise by the supreme audit institution of the country.
The inaction on the part of almost all the Government departments again came to the fore when Accountant General Audit vide DO No.Rep/2-5/2018-19/415 dated January 8, 2019 conveyed displeasure to the Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam.
“Despite instructions of Finance Department and General Administration Department there has not been any significant improvement in the responsiveness of the Executive despite the fact that speedy follow-up action on the Audit Paragraphs is essential”, the Accountant General told the Chief Secretary and sought his personal intervention on furnishing of Action Taken Notes within the prescribed time limits.
On the intervention of Chief Secretary, the General Administration Department vide Circular No.09 dated February 14, 2019 asked all the Administrative Secretaries to take immediate measures and have Action Taken Notes on the Audit Paragraphs featuring in the Audit Reports for the period 2000-01 to 2015-16 furnished to the Accountant General without any further delay.
For the convenience of the departments even relevant information vis-à-vis Audit Paragraphs was furnished to all the concerned Administrative Secretaries but despite lapse of more than eight months there is no perceptible improvement in responses from majority of the departments, sources in the General Administration Department and Accountant General office told EXCELSIOR.
“Only few departments have shown interest in fulfilling their responsibility of furnishing ATNs on the Audit Paragraphs while as others are still dilly-dallying, which is unbecoming on their part”, sources said, adding “by not acting on the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India the concerned authorities are showing reluctance to bring transparency and accountability in the functioning of their respective departments”.
They further said, “it is a matter of serious concern that bureaucrats are not ready to understand that findings of the supreme audit institution of the country are aimed at ensuring better utilization of funds, strict adherence to the rules and bringing much-needed improvement in the functioning of the Government departments”.
It is pertinent to mention here that Accountant General Audit had conveyed to the Chief Secretary in the month of January this year that out of 682 Audit Paragraphs featuring in the reports of CAG for the year 2000-01 to 2015-16, only 329 Audit Paragraphs were discussed by the Committees as on September 2018.
Of these, the Committees could make recommendations in respect of 306 Audit Paragraphs. However, there are 244 suo-moto ATNs and 228 ATNs on the recommendations of the Committees outstanding from the Administrative Departments as on September 2018.
The departments which were pointed out by the Accountant General Audit are Agriculture Production, Finance, Home, Public Works, Forest, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Transport, Tourism, Industries and Commerce, Social Welfare and Power Development.