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Alarm bells ringing regarding Gauteng Legislature’s e-government after Auditor-General’s findings on irregular expenditure

The alarm bells are ringing with regard to the Gauteng Legislature's e-government Department after the Auditor-General (AG) found R354 million in irregular expenditure relating to the Gauteng Boradband Network project (GBN-project), e-mail services and security.

It is ironic that these irregular expenses were incurred while the software used by the e-government Department is substandard, free software that may cause operational problems.

It was also found that the website’s user data cannot be recovered and, thus, it does not comply with audit requirements. It is clear that the Department is not functioning or being managed properly.

The abnormally high percentage of senior and management positions that are vacant and are, thus, filled by acting staff members for long periods of time undoubtedly plays a significant part in the qualified audit findings by the AG.

In addition, the 'Email as a Service’ contract was irregularly extended due to the current management's poor planning.

According to feedback provided by the Department, various investigations have been conducted, but the FF Plus maintains that if the senior positions had been filled by competent staff members, the AG's findings would not have been necessary and misappropriation would not have occurred.

The FF Plus is also of the opinion that if the e-government Department does not take decisive action to ensure the effective functioning of the GBN-project and related services soon, these services will all collapse.

The ongoing problems with the system have a detrimental impact on the less fortunate and communities that have no internet access.

Libraries and other state institutions offer these internet services to the public. Students, learners and their parents are particularly dependent on this facility and are most affected when the services do not function properly.

Communities may not be denied the opportunity to receive vital correspondence, which could render them unbale to complete school projects or prepare for exams.

The FF Plus is aware of the plan of action that the Department implemented to save it from going under and will closely monitor the situation to ensure that the proposed turn-around strategy is followed to a tee so as to prevent any further squandering of tax money.

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