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COA hits Local Gov’t Academy for splurging P15M on trainings in hotels

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The Local Government Academy (LGA) in 2016 failed to maintain its training center on a leased lot at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, compelling the school to conduct trainings in hotels in Manila and incurring unnecessary expenses amounting to P15,198,285.18, state auditors said.

In its 2016 annual audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the academy, which is the training arm of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), failed to properly maintain its training center for the conduct of its trainings,.

Instead, the trainings were held in hotels in Metro Manila, “thereby incurring unnecessary rent and additional expenses,” COA said.

COA said the DILG entered into a Contract of Lease with UP for the continued use of a parcel of land in the Los Baños campus starting July 8, 2012 to July 7, 2017 for a total amount of P5,528,180.

Included in the contract is the use of the building/s and its immediate premises, COA said, which can hold in-service trainings, orientation course, seminars, workshops and conferences.

The building has a conference hall which can accommodate up to 200 participants, five meeting rooms which can hold 20 to 40 participants and a case room which seats 80 to 100 participants. It is also equipped with overhead projectors, video and CD players and television sets. Dormitories can accommodate up to 150 people while executive rooms can house up to 50 participants.

COA said the training center in 2016 had seldom been used due to its physical condition.

The LGA failed to repair the training center despite available budget for it, COA said.

“In one of our visits, we observed that the training center specially the conference hall needs major repair to prevent the rainwater to drip inside the hall. The agency failed to properly maintain the facility at a functional condition despite the funds provided for it,” COA said.

“Under the contract, DILG shall be responsible for the maintenance, care and security of the property including the building and improvements thereon,” COA added.

COA noted that the LGA in 2016 spent P15,198,285.18 for hotel accommodations of participants for trainings conducted in Metro Manila

COA said the contract price for the hotels may be unnecessary because the LGA computed the contract price based on the expected number of participants regardless of whether or not they attended.

“It has been the practice of the LGA that when booking for hotels to be used as training venues, the number of expected participants/guests is the basis for the contract price. The contract price is the same regardless of whether the expected participants were able to attend or not or whether the actual attendees is below the number of expected/assured guests; thus, LGA is paying for unnecessary amount,” COA said.

COA said the LGA could have done away with shelling out the unnecessary expenses for hotel lodging had it conducted repairs of its training center.

“On the other hand, when the actual attendees exceed the expected/assured number of guests, the amount corresponding to the accommodation for the extra guests will have to be paid which may be higher than the contract price. All these could have been avoided/saved had LGA maintained the facility giving immediate attention to the needed repairs thereby maximizing its utilization,” COA said.

“We recommended that management pursue in giving attention to the needed repairs and maximize the utilization of the training center,” COA added.

The LGA management commented it was not able to undertake the repairs of the training center pending the signing of the contract which was released to them only in the latter part of 2016.

The LGA however assured that it would consider maximizing the use of the training facility after the repairs had been made.

The LGA under Executive Order 262 is the training arm of the DILG. It is responsible for the capability building of local government officials and functionaries and human resource development of department personnel.

The LGA is under the direct supervision of the DILG Secretary.