Central Vigilance Commission readies panel of external monitors to keep an eye on tenders

Central Vigilance Commission readies panel of external monitors to keep an eye on tenders

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The tendering and procurement processes of many ministries, government departments, PSUs, ports and banks are set to face more scrutiny with the central vigilance commission (CVC) having readied a list of 197 eminent persons, mostly retired bureaucrats and IPS officers, to act as “independent external monitors” and flag any malpractices in sanctioning expenditure.

The list, reviewed by ET, has the names of eminent bureaucrats who have been selected to be appointed at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, IRCTC, Rail Vikas Nigam, Employees’ State Insurance, Securities and Exchanges Board of India, Small Industries Development Bank of India, National Highways Authority of India , Central Board of Direct Taxes, Prasar Bharati, Central Public Works Department, National Disaster Management Authority and many PSUs. They will also be appointed to banks such as Allahabad Bank, Andhra Bank, Central Bank of India apart from the ministries of home, health, external affairs, earth science and food processing.

The order notification is expected to be sent from the ministries soon, ET has learnt. On Tuesday, the defence ministry announced the names of Sudhir Bhargava, a retired IAS officer, and Rajiv Jain, a retired IPS officer, who will screen the functioning of the Military Engineering Services (MES) and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

A government official in know of the matter said this will “add another layer of scrutiny to the working of government departments that issue a lot of tenders and will ensure that malpractices are flagged to the CVO”. Till now, only PSUs are known to have IEMs but the concept has been scaled up to bring in other departments too, he added.

As of now, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, through its departmental audits, brings out instances of misappropriation, fraud and lapses in internal control in different government departments. There are also vigilance officers who flag lack of administrative oversight and failure to adhere to codal provisions or any misappropriation of funds.

ET has learnt that the terms and conditions of what the newly-decided external monitors have to do are under review with the vigilance commission, and the guidelines are expected to be made public soon.

“When it comes to procurement, integrated pacts are often signed between the government agency and the bidder to ensure the integrity of the process and the job of the external monitor is to ensure that the process is fair and is not restrictive, or biased towards anyone. The new SOP for the monitors will make the role clearer,” the official said.

“PSUs and some banks have had external monitors for years but many government departments and ministries don’t have such a system. It is often left to the minister, but now it looks like there is an effort made to ensure there are no leakages, proper utilisation of government funds and no lapses in expenditure,” he added.

Infrastructure projects such as Kochi Metro Rail, ports in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Puducherry, the Land Ports Authority of India that manages several Integrated check posts at borders, PSUs such as Bharat Petroleum, MIDHANI and state-run insurers such as Life Insurance Corporation and Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OICL), and government agencies such as Ordnance Factory Board will also have an external monitors now, ET has learnt.

Former bureaucrats who have served as union government secretaries, including Anita Chaudhary, Naveen Verma, Rashmi Verma, Hare Krishna Dash, Luv Verma, Seema Bahuguna, Ajit Sharan, R Gangadharan among others are part of the panel that also has 22 retired IPS officers such as former special director of CBI Salim Ali, former chiefs of police of Kerala MN Krishnamurthy and Venugopal Nair, and former DGPs of UP and MP, OP Singh and Umakant Lal respectively, apart from former commissioners of tax and vigilance commissioners.

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