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General News of Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

SSNIT’s $66m ICT project in dilemma

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) invested some $66 million on a malfunctioning computerised system that is yet to deliver its intended result.

The failure of the operational business suite (OBS) to function effectively has raised questions on whether the Trust conducted a value for money assessment on the project prior to its procurement and deployment last year.

SSNIT’s operational business suite (OBS) project was meant to provide customers with convenience in service delivery but aspects of the multimillion dollar project failed to achieve the intended results, following their inability to function effectively.

A deputy Director General of the Trust in-charge of Administration and Finance, Mr Michael Addotey Addo, disclosed this to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on Tuesday morning.

The malfunctioning OBS adds to a list of ICT projects that SSNIT deployed in recent years to help computerise its operations.

The projects include the district operating system (DOS), branch operation system (BOS), enhanced branch operating system (E-BOS) and the integrated pension administrative system (IPAS).

The procurement and subsequent deployment of the project could now become one of the subjects that international audit firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC), will be looking into, when the firm begins a review of SSNIT’s operations in recent years.

Already, GRAPHIC BUSINESS understands that five management staff of the Trust are currently under investigations by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).

Another fifteen employees are assisting in the investigation.

It is, however, not clear if those investigations are related to the failed OBS project.

Comprehensive assessment

The Trust and PwC signed a contract to enable PwC to undertake an independent review and baseline assessment of SSNIT’s ICT system.

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of SSNIT, Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor, told journalists at a press conference Tuesday that the Trust had, over the years, failed to live up to its mandate.

This, he said informed the Board’s decision to ask for an independent assessment and review of the Trust’s operations.
Under the contract, PwC is expected to undertake an extensive review of SSNIT to ensure quality work, objectivity, reasonable and adequate basis for conclusion as well as make recommendations on the Trust’s operation.

Reasons for failure

Dr Addo Kufour said over the years, SSNIT had been bedeviled with several challenges, including financial irregularities, improper management practices, high management cost and imprudent investments.

Baseline assessment

According to Dr. Addo Kufour, the Board members were of the view that there was a need to understand the status of the Trust as of the time that they were sworn into office in April, this year.

The review and baseline assessment will concentrate on four main areas within SSNIT’s operation, including; financial management, risk management, information technology and human resource management.

Mandate of SSNIT

Dr. Addo Kufour explained that SSNIT, when well managed would be a formidable, financial institution that could assist government in its attempts to resuscitate the national economy.

He added that “SSNIT, if well managed could also act as a magnet to attract considerable foreign direct investments into the country.”

He noted that SSNIT must endeavor to partner the private sector to flourish, thereby helping to establish more enterprises, which would become avenues for youth employment.

Expectation

At the end of the eight-week exercise, the Board expects PwC to know the “ground truth” and the status of SSNIT as at March 31, 2017 and offer guidance in the formulation of strategies.

It will also recommend plans to ensure that the objectives of pension reforms are met.

PwC are also to deal with any issues of overt and reckless wrong doing that may be unearthed.

Mr Micheal Asiedu-Antwi, who represented PwC, at the press conference assured the Trust of their capacity to undertake the assignment within the agreed period.

He said the firm already has four different teams working on the various areas under the assessment and review.