SOME P73 million in government funds were wasted after the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) abandoned the Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFWs) e-Link Project due to disagreements with other partner agencies, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported.
State auditors said the POEA did not continue with the OFW e-Link Project worth P72.9 million even after completing the online deployment system, the first phase of the project.
The POEA received a budget allotment for its computerization program following the endorsement of the Commission on Information on Communications Technology.
The project was never completed.
The first phase was completed in 2007. The last two phases — the online passporting system and online credential application and verification system — were called off.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) launched its own online services for passporting and the National Statistics Office, for birth certificates.
Partner agencies in the credentialing system such as the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority maintain websites, where OFWs could readily get the information they need, also dropped the project.
The Bureau of Immigration, the target linkage of the POEA, backed out as well, saying it had already a database in place.
But P52.6 million was already spent for the purchase of IT equipment, software, and other operating expense items.
“As a result, government funds approximately P52.6 million have been wasted,” the COA said.
The P20.3-million balance was also used “without proper authority” to buy equipment, it was learned.
By 2012, the balance was only P11.5 million, “which only shows that even fully aware of the project termination, the management caused the delivery of P8.77 million worth of IT equipment.”
“The IT equipment delivered in various offices of the POEA [was used]no longer for the OFW e-Link Project from which the fund was sourced. The balance of P20.31 million should have been reverted to the National Treasury,” auditors said.
COA said the POEA should stop using the money allotted for the computerization project without proper authority.
POEA officials said they abandoned the project because other partner agencies were not ready to connect their databases and systems to the OFW e-Link System.
They said the agency was using computers, software and other equipment acquired for the project for OFW-related assistance programs, among others, e-Contracts Submission, POEA e-Verification System, and data sharing with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and Home Development Mutual Fund.