MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has called out the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for hiring 130 consultants last year, with an aggregate contract cost of P24.457 million.
In its 2021 annual audit report, the COA noted that the contracts entered into by the CHR with the consultants had not undergone any market research.
State auditors pointed out that when it comes to the hiring of consultants, market research is required under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act to determine the most advantageous terms and costs of contracts.
The COA said the contracts were signed by the CHR without the approval of resident state auditors.
“None of the procurement process involving COS (contract of service) was witnessed by the resident COA, apparently disregarding the importance of transparency as the core principle of government procurement,” the report read.
The COA specifically cited the CHR’s hiring of eight legal specialists with a contract cost of P4.288 million.
Among the other contracts flagged involved the hiring of 18 consultants in different fields of expertise for P4.968 million as well as 16 “specialists” for a contract cost of P4.719 million.
Government auditors also questioned the hiring by the CHR of 28 content creators or module developers for P2.853 million, three consultants for climate change issues costing P1.476 million and 17 consultants for mental health advocacy costing the human rights body P1.356 million.
The COA called out the CHR’s central office as well as its National Capital Region and Cordillera Administrative Region offices in connection with the contracts.
The CHR admitted that the hiring of the consultants under the COS scheme did not undergo the required procurement process as the end-user offices did “all the works and later on approved by the commission en banc through the issuance of a resolution.”
The audit body said the CHR has agreed to remind its offices to follow the rules in the hiring of consultants under RA 9184.
The COA said the CHR also committed to remind its Procurement Division to notify the auditors about the hiring of consultants through the COS scheme.