By Jariatu S. Bangura
The 2021 Auditor General’s report have revealed that that during the auditing process, Auditors observed that the Immigration Department issues visas in a stamp form, instead of its actual stickers’ form.
The report states that issuing visas in stamp form makes it difficult to ensure complete trace of the quantities of visas issued and revenue collected.
“In an interview, the Head of Foreign Nationals explained that the discontinued use of stickers was due to the fact that the printing cost was borne by the Department, while the visa revenue was collected by the NRA. The cost led to added burden on the funds allocated to the Department by the Government of Sierra Leone,” the report stated.
The Auditors however recommended that the Chief Immigration Officer and the relevant authorities should ensure reintroduction of visa stickers, and discontinue the practice of issuing rubber stamp visas, noting that in the process, the cost of printing stickers should be budgeted for and the department should consider engaging the services of a local printer.
The report further notes that during verification, no written official response was provided by the Chief Immigration Officer or the office responsible on the issue of issuance of stamp visas instead of visa sticker, therefore the issue remains unresolved.
Furthermore the report revealed that during a review of the ICT Unit of the department there were no formal plans for disaster recovery to enable the retrieval of vital information in the event of an unavoidable loss of key data and the inventory list submitted for ICT equipment in the Department was not comprehensive, as it lacked asset tag, serial number and user identification.
The report continues to states that the lack of proper IT hardware records will lead to poor management of assets, leading to assets exchanged or converted into personal use without trace.
“Most staff were not using the official email address and official communications were done using private email addresses. There is a tendency for unauthorized users to access high risk data, security and confidential information of the Department” the report reveals.
Auditors recommended that the Head of IT Unit should develop a disaster recovery plan, maintain an updated inventory list of all ICT equipment and also institute an official email address for all staff that would serve as an official communication tool.
According to the official response, the report states that the disaster recovery plan is yet to be formal simply because they are yet to digitalize the process and it is all manual inventory list and it is not comprehensive because of the break in communication between the ICT Unit and the Procurement Officer and Store Officer.
“We are not privy to ICT equipment ordered and delivered, therefore it makes it difficult to have the required information to update the list. We noted that official email addresses created and provided are not being used by personnel. Management will take appropriate action to get it done,” the report states.