The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is taking small but firm steps to bring intelligence and financial investigation agencies under its audit umbrella.
In 2010,it did a special audit of the National Technical Research Organisation NTRO which was followed by audit of the Research and Analysis Wing RAW. Now,the CAG is targeting financial intelligence units like the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI),Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Excise Intelligence unit for special audits.
While the final nod for the audits of NTRO and R&AW were given at the level of the National Security Adviser (NSA),after an agreement on what information could be shared with the auditors,sources said the CAGs move to begin audits of the other agencies has met with resistance from the revenue department.
Following the CAGs request for scrutiny of DRI files,Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose is learnt to have taken up the issue with Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth.
According to sources,the DRI has only handed over some peripheral data to the CAG so far,and a final decision is yet to be taken. CAG officials said the proposed audit was also aimed at evaluating whether the agencys assessment of duties and penalties matched the intelligence and data generated by it.
CAG sources said the disbursement and use of secret service funds by agencies like the NTRO and DRI has been discussed for long,since the auditors feel it is crucial to link the agencys operations with the funds sanctioned.
At present,any intelligence or investigation agency which shows an increase in annual expenditure of over 25 per cent of its allotted secret service funds is required to inform the CAG. But these have rarely been reported to the apex auditor in the past.
Since none of these audits are covered under Article 151 of the Constitution,the reports are not sent to the President or tabled in parliament. While the special audit report on NTRO was submitted to the NSA,the report on R&AW is learnt to have been submitted to the Cabinet Secretariat and the Prime Ministers Office (PMO).
The CAGs foray into the scrutiny of intelligence agencies has yielded mixed results so far. The special audit of the NTRO brought to light alleged irregularities in purchases and recruitment. But CAG sources said the scrutiny of R&AW has not yielded any significant findings. One reason for this could be that for the past two years,the internal audit report of the R&AW (a CAG officer is permanently stationed in the R&AW audit unit) and follow-up action taken are also shared with the CAG.