Thursday, December 7, 2023

Elections agency ‘loses’ computers, furniture and 116 vehicles

Federal electoral authorities have lost or lost track of thousands of their assets including 116 vehicles but say that there is no concrete evidence that public officials are to blame.

The internal auditing body at the National Electoral Institute (INE) reported to Congress that 17,355 items of movable property – including computer and medical equipment, office furniture, electric generators and cameras – cannot be located.

According to an INE inventory, the items have a combined value of 126.1 million pesos (US $6.2 million).

In a 2019 annual report sent to the Transparency and Anti-Corruption committee of the Chamber of Deputies, the INE Internal Control Body (OIC) also reported that 116 vehicles worth 6.2 million pesos are unaccounted for.

Questioned by the newspaper El Universal about the missing assets, the INE itself presented a different, and more detailed, version of events.

“The 17,355 goods to which the OIC refers are identified, albeit misclassified. The information has now been updated,” the INE said.

The institute told El Universal that 3,123 of the items in question are no longer in its possession although it didn’t explain what happened to them.

The INE said that it was bequeathed a list of 7,719 missing goods by the Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE, which it superseded in 2014, and that 5,479 of the lost items were reported by state-based INE branches rather than institute headquarters.

It also said that 271 items were located in storage, 471 were found in INE’s central offices and 291 were disposed of or sold but have not yet been removed from the institute’s inventory and hence appear in the OIC report.

With regard to the missing vehicles, the INE said the institute’s executive management had reported 117 missing vehicles, one more than the number cited by the OIC.

Of that number, 82 were removed from the institute’s “administrative resources computer system,” or SIAR, in 2013 because they were no longer in the institute’s possession, the INE said. However, when information from that system was migrated to the new “comprehensive administrative management system,” or SIGA, the record of the missing vehicles was also transferred.

The INE said that it doesn’t currently have the supporting documentation to remove the record of the 82 lost vehicles from the SIGA.

Thirty-one vehicles that were classified as stolen in the SIAR are also classified as such in the SIGA. INE said that it doesn’t currently have any documentation about those vehicles or their theft. Another four vehicles that weren’t listed as stolen in the SIAR appear as such in the SIGA.

The INE said that 18 audits conducted by the OIC that are referred to in the report submitted to Congress have not yet been completed. Therefore, the observations are preliminary and “in no way signify clear or proven” irregularities or show that public officials are responsible, the institute said.

The OIC said in its report that 15 investigations conducted in 2019 found that there was no evidence to suggest that INE officials had stolen goods. However, it added that at the end of last year there were 72 pending investigations related to the disappearance of goods from the National Electoral Institute.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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