COA questions Talisay City’s purchase of ‘high-end PCs, laptops’

Talisay City Govt says it was 'economical choice' in the long-run

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter | July 20,2022 - 04:30 PM

COA | INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the decision of the Talisay City Government to purchase high-end laptops and personal computers (PC) used for engineering and video editing purposes. 

In its 2021 Annual Audit Report for Talisay City, the state auditing body called the city government’s attention to justify its procurement of five PC sets, and two high-end laptops amounting to a total of P610,750.

COA described the cost incurred by the local government as ‘imprudent use of government funds’ since the latter was unable to sufficiently defend the necessity to buy high-end consumer electronics. 

Citing COA Circular No. 2012-003, state auditors said ‘high-end or expensive models/brands of electronic gadgets such as mobile phones, desktops, and laptops, are considered unnecessary expenditures’ unless they are properly justified.  

The five PC sets and one of the high-end laptops were intended for the City Engineering Office. Another high-end laptop was charged under the Office of the City Mayor.

The purchases were made between May and June of 2021, the report showed. 

“While the procurement of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Equipment such as laptops and desktops are necessary for effectively discharging the two Offices’ duties and responsibilities, prudence in the use of funds must be always taken into consideration so that public procurement is done in the most judicious and economical manner,” portions of the COA report stated.

A copy of the entire COA report for Talisay City can be accessed on the commission’s official website. 

LGU Explanation, Reply 

Based on COA’s findings, the Talisay City Government decided to buy five PC sets and one, high-end laptop for the City Engineering Office to improve employee productivity.

The City Engineering Office also told state auditors they needed these particular devices in order to carry out their tasks and deliverables that needed high-performing software such as computer-aided design (CAD) programs. 

Each of the five PC sets costs P88,700, totaling P443,500, while the laptop has a price tag of P91,750. 

During the audit, the City Engineering Office tried to justify that the laptops and PCs they chose were collectively an ‘economical choice for the long run’. 

“These computers are considered “future proof” requiring less frequent replacements in the future. They further elaborated that they are using software in line with their duty such as CAD, SketchUp, GIS, SITEOPS which are continuously updating their versions annually thus requiring collective minimum specifications of the computer sets to be considered,” COA said, quoting the City Engineering Office. 

The Office of the City Mayor’s decision to also purchase a high-end laptop worth P75,500 to facilitate video and photo editing also got the attention of COA. 

The mayor’s executives, in response, said they needed laptops with high specs that can support photo and video processing smoothly and fast. 

COA, however, disagreed with the arguments presented to them. The auditing body said that the local government’s replies were not enough to justify the P600,000 purchase. 

State auditors pointed out that the City Engineering Office has yet to provide the licenses and any other proof of the software they were referring to. 

“While the justification on the use of work-related programs such as AutoCAD may be accepted, however, review of disbursements of the City during CY (Calendar Year) 2021, disclosed no procurement of licensed programs like AutoCAD, SketchUp and others, thus, we maintain our stand that the necessity of these procurements is not justified,” explained COA. 

Brand and other specifications of the electronics in question were not disclosed. 

However, figures from Google Shopping showed that high-end laptops and desktops sold in the country can range between P40,000 to P300,000, depending on their processors, graphic cards, durability, and certifications.

As a result, COA reminded the city government to practice prudence when it comes to buying electronics. 

“We recommended that Management observe prudence in the incurrence of expenditures by giving due consideration of the actual needs and requirements and by always adhering with the economical measures in every procurement activity to be undertaken,” COA said. /rcg 

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