Default Thumbnail

COA flags PCOO’s massive hiring of COS

July 8, 2021 Jester P. Manalastas 292 views

THE Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) spent P70.69 million on “unrestricted/massive hiring” of contract of service (COS) personnel last year.

This was the finding of the Commission on Audit (COA), as it noted the rise of government spending on COS and Job order wages even if there were questions on the necessity of their services.

According to COA, with 148 personnel listed as permanent, co-terminus or temporary, the COS hires outnumbered them by 260.42 percent and comprised 71.7 percent of the total workforce of the agency.

The massive hiring of COS personnel cost the PCOO a total P70,688,830.39 for their salaries during the year, resulting in the depletion of government funds which could have been used for other programs and project of the government, the COA said.

The PCOO described as “service providers,” the additional manpower and were designated as consultants, public relations officers, media relations officers, public circulation officers, information officers, social media specialists, news monitors, utility workers, and drivers. There were also head writers, scriptwriters, and writer/transcribers as well as several kinds of assistants.

The COA added that the Office of the Secretary got the biggest number of COS hires with 70.

Meanwhile, the state auditors noticed that despite the number and amounts involved, the PCOO has no written policy on the hiring of COS employees.

“Identification of individuals to be hired rests directly upon the request of the department heads and other agency officials. The request was not supported by a justification for the hiring of COS personnel and the statement of function to be performed by the said personnel,” the audit team said in its report.

Likewise, the COS payroll was not supported by a certification from the personnel officer that the activities/services cannot be provided by the regular or permanent employees of the agency.

The Commission on Audit’s Joint Circular No. 1, s. 2017 issued on June 5, 2017 with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) reiterated that government agencies may hire additional personnel for manpower augmentation for services related to their functions.

The COA called the attention of the PCOO by requiring it to submit a justification, draft policy guidelines for future hiring, and to absorb qualified COS hires for vacant regular positions in the agency.

For its part, the PCOO defended its actions saying hiring 375 additional personnel was needed to “augment the lack of manpower” and help in the “delivery of the services of the PCOO during the time of the pandemic.”