23 June 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
A government body awarding equipment grants in Northern Ireland is failing to demonstrate adherence to anti-fraud safeguards, according to the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO).
In its annual report published this week (available from www.niauditoffice.gov.uk
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%>) the NIAO highlighted poor use of procurement controls over food industry grants.
Comptroller and auditor general John Dowdall estimated the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development awarded up to £3.3 million of grant funding without sufficient evidence of compliance with procurement procedures.
Dowdall said: "My testing of the grants identified numerous instances in which there was insufficient evidence of proper procurement procedures having been carried out."
But the department has since said it is "generally content that adequate procurement procedures were followed although they would concede that these procedures were not properly documented".
Dowdall called on the department to "learn lessons" from this, since such evidence and processes were vital in preventing fraud and obtaining value for money.