Asset management 2018-07-18T16:30:11+00:00

ASSET MANAGEMENT

Local governments own, dispose and use various resources to support their daily duties, such as delivery of public services to the communities and achieve their objectives.

These resources can be different in nature: tangible (i.e. land, laptop or public housing), or intangible (official’s time, intellectual property etc.). The value of these assets varies from low-value resources, such as office supplies and equipment, to high-value assets (land, public housing etc.). Because of their value, they offer numerous opportunities for abusive behaviour.

These assets are easily subject to abuse of powers and consequently, these practices, with weak controls and poor management practices, may turn into a routine habit. Taking out official public resources from offices, use public goods for the aims of a parallel employment or deliberately undervaluing assets to aid a third party, are some of the examples of corruptive practices committed by local officials. In order to avoid any form of misuse of public resources, local governments have to introduce and implement special policies for the management and use of public assets, develop and maintain an updated register of all assets held by the municipality and conduct regular checks to verify inventory in order to report any losses.

Training the relevant personnel on the municipal policies and procedures to raise awareness on the risks of corruption is an important step to guarantee a better public asset management.

INTEGRITY RISKS

An integrity risk assessment of management and use of resources may identify some or all of the following integrity risk factors (the list is not limited):

  • Officials take public resources out of office for personal use or sale (i.e. sell confidential information). Officials misuse work vehicles for personal use; pay fuel for private purposes with public money; submit false or inflated invoices for repair and maintenance costs. Officials use public resources for the aims of their parallel employment (i.e. work time, vehicle, stationery, mobile phones etc.)

  • Officials steal work resources (i.e. stationary, equipment, etc.)

  • Officials collude with a third party to submit false or inflated invoices (i.e. hotel bill, purchases of stationary, etc). Officials forge timesheets, travel or accommodation records to gain a personal benefit.

  • Officials purchase resources above actual needs to dispose of the ’surplus‘ and get a personal gain, deliberately undervalue assets that are to be disposed to aid a third part or him/herself.

  • Officials change the status of an asset from current to obsolete without justification to aid a third party. Officials provide for unjustified early retirement or disposal of items to shift the asset into scrap. Officials alter/destroy records concerning the disposal of goods to cover abusive behavior. Officials exercise inadequate inventory controls over spares, used assets or parts that still retain some value.

RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES

Following the risk assessment, the local government may consider the following risk management strategies as development points:

  • Introduce, implement and monitor policy/procedures for the management, use and disposal of assets, to govern the management of specified types of resources (i.e. buildings, vehicles, etc.). Align these with the international standards available to regulate identifying, acquiring, managing, disposing of, valuing, recording and writing off assets: i.e. ISO 55001:2014 Asset management – Requirements. Communicate them effectively to all staff. Train relevant personnel to raise competence and awareness.

  • Develop and maintain a register of all the assets held by the local government (i.e. e-register). Conduct and record regular inventories of goods to ensure no items have been improperly disposed. Record and maintain details documenting their status and location and the planned disposal technique. Maintain an obsolete assets inventory register to account for obsolete assets, ensuring that they are not written off until disposal. Conduct regular checks to verify inventory against the register. Report and investigate losses.

  • Segregate duties in the management of resources to separate responsibilities for purchasing and approval of usage.

  • Adopt and implement a system of regular valuations and stock-takes of assets. Conduct regular check-ups. Ensure adequate capacities for professional valuation of assets. For high-value assets use external valuation.

  • Conduct regular reconciliations of the use of resources allocated to officials such as hotel accommodation bills, usage of taxis receipts, official lunches’ receipts, etc.

  • Adopt and implement a rigorous procedure on using work vehicles and implement unplanned check-ups. Check vehicle log books against fuel use, to identify irregularities. Check and verify invoices for maintenance and repair.

  • Use effective working time registration systems. Implement regular (including unplanned) check-ups to verify attendance.

  • Adopt and implement adequate storage arrangements.

  • When disposing of high-value assets (i.e. land), consider using a competitive process. Clearly document reasons for disposing of assets at below market price. Require appropriate external valuation of resources and keep records to allow an audit trail.

GUIDE TO CORRUPTION-FREE LOCAL GOVERNMENT