The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday revealed that it has stopped the procurement of four sets of high-end laptops amounting to P700,000 after the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged several spending deficiencies in the agency.
Earlier this month, the DOH was set to acquire four “High-End 2-in-1 Laptop with Accessories” worth P700,000—an amount enough for 20 computers with similar specifications at current market prices—according to a document from the agency dated August 4, 2021.
“The transaction was put on hold pending further market study,” said Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega in an online press conference.
The laptops were intended “for the use of the knowledge management and information technology” team of the DOH, he said.
Vega confirmed the postponement, days after the DOH drew flak online for allegedly choosing either overpriced or costly equipment in the middle of the global pandemic.
Last week, the COA flagged several transactions within the DOH calling some expenditures as “excessive.”
Purchases worth P5.038 billion were found to lack documentation and had procedural deficiencies acts that violated the Government Procurement Reform Act, according to government auditors.
The deficiencies noted were purchases found to be disadvantageous to the government amounting to P194.403 million, as well as defects in the sworn statements in contracts, non-posting of procurement information on the government website, and non-provision of technical specifications in contracts.
Vega also noted that the COA “did not mention any funds lost to corruption.”
“Compliance is ongoing. Some of these have already been resolved,” he said.
“This is really to improve the process and efficiency of all units. It is not yet a final report. We can still rectify noted deficiencies,” he said.
In 2020, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. was also flagged for approving a P2.1-billion budget for the procurement of laptops, software, and other equipment for its IT system.
Among the questionable items in PhilHealth’s IT shopping list last year were two sets of laptops, with one amounting to P4.11 million, while another was worth P115.32 million.