Speaking exclusively to TOI, CAG GC Murmu said the audit will also look into vaccine distribution, appraisal of the Central government health system, the ESI (Employees’ State Insurance Corporation) hospitals and dispensaries and state health infrastructure. The report will be completed within 3-4 months and tabled before Parliament.
“We have started to audit how effectively the pandemic has been handled in various states. The case study will be carried out with field visits in West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra, MP, UP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana — and will look into the procurements and availability of drugs, equipment in the public health centres, availability of paramedics and the overall response system in the hinterlands,” Murmu said.
“This audit will also highlight good practices and innovations applied by different states,” the CAG said. The audit will be carried out by CAG officials having expertise in auditing health systems in the past and also by engaging outside experts, if needed. The auditor had in 2019 audited the districts hospitals in UP where it had compared practices in these hospitals with the national health standards and WHO guidelines taking help from experts hired from the NIPFP (National Institute of Public Finance and Policy) and AIIMS. The CAG emphasised on bringing in more transparency in the system to make it more efficient and professional.
Murmu said the pandemic did affect completion of several audit reports whose finalisation has been delayed. However, work on finishing them has been in progress and by 2022 all the sectoral and state reports will be regularised.
The CAG is an enabler in the development process and compliments government’s various reforms initiatives through its performance and compliance audits, he said. The CAG has also recently started outcome audits which look at central sector schemes, especially the objectives achieved through the implementation of these schemes. External experts are hired related to fields as diverse as climate change, education, metro rail and science and technology departments.
For instance, there have been audits to check if the learning abilities of students in government schools have improved and if expenditure on schooling had proved effective. These audits go beyond analysing expenditure and utilisation certificates by asking if it has improved life of the beneficiaries.