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Give auditors power to demand timely response
April, 23rd 2010

There have been reports about the CAGs findings going against telecom minister A Raja

I dont know who is leaking this out, because we havent firmed up our report as yet. When we enter into an audit, we first prepare our guidelines along which we do the audit. We discuss them with the auditee that these are the guidelines along which we will do the audit. In case they have any nuances theyd like to share with us, they do that. After we have done the audit, we also share our observations with them. Its known as the exit conference. We had sent memos to the Department of Telecommunications, or DoT. So, obviously, somewhere, something is leaking. Now theyll respond to all this. It has been in the news for about a week now.

Do you think the office of the CAG needs to be given more teeth?

We are asking for more teeth. One, we prepare an audit report and as is mandated to us, we place the report in Parliament. We are not seeking any teeth at the implementation of the report to impose penalty on the defaulter. That is the job of the executive. But today, as a citizen of India, under the Right to Information Act, if you want to know how many times Vinod Rai has travelled abroad in the last one year, this office will be obliged to give you that information within 30 days.

The teeth I am seeking is the facility that you are giving to the common man today. Which means, he is entitled to get that information in 30 days. Give that to the auditor also. I am not seeking any teeth or power to penalise persons. Once I place my report in Parliament, all I am saying is please respond to it quickly. When I make an observation, give a response, thats all.

During the conference of auditors general concluded recently, the chief minister of Delhi said the CAG and auditors of the state are prone to nitpicking

Sheila Dikshit has a very valid point. I share that opinion, that we should not be doing nitpicking. The only thing is her remark was misplaced, because if you are saying the Delhi government has bought buses for Rs 2,600 crore, and they could have spent Rs 200 crore less, that is not nitpicking. If I had said she has spent Rs 26 lakh whereas Rs 24 lakh could have been spent, that would have been nitpicking.

In what way do you think your 36 years experience as a civil servant come to bear on your current role?

Thats, in fact, critical because an auditor looks at everything like a tonga horse, through blinkers. As Sheila Dikshit said, and as I bring home to these people here, its very important for us to see what is the publics perception of us. We need to introspect (whether) we are mere fault finders or in finding a lacuna do we have a role to make a positive recommendation too? (My job is that) I must tell you, yes, I notice the following infirmities, (but also that) you might like to take (the following steps) to plug those holes. Thats my role, and thats a positive orientation.

The CAGs office can hire up to 63,000 people, but the current strength countrywide is 47,000. Why is that?

I stopped hiring about two years back because I thought we had to reengineer our processes and then hire people who have the skill sets to be operating in those processes. Now we are going to be opening up our hiring processes. We are going to be hiring chartered accountants, IT professionals and commerce graduates who have some idea of accounting.

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