Higher Education Commission Begins Radical Reforms

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The Acting Management of the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) has begun establishing and maintaining internal controls in compliance to the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC), as well as Public Finance Management (PFM) laws and other relevant acts and regulations.

Prof. David S. Dahn, Acting Director General of the NCHE, said the acquiescence intends to enable the NCHE undertake its contract awards, goods delivery, project execution, evaluation and reporting in an effective and efficient manner, as well as the preparation of documentation on procurement/projects that are free from material misstatements.

In an interview with journalists on Friday, April 19, Prof. Dahn said Mr. Johnson Choloprey and team have written the policy on finance, while Mr. Emmanuel Slewion and team did the “Policy on Personnel.”

“We have written the General Services Agency to help code the assets of the NCHE and communicated to the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) to set-up internal auditing,” Prof. Dahn said.

The radical reforms of the NCHE followed the accusation of the General Audit Commission (GAC), stating that the NCHE didn’t establish anti-fraud internal controls to track performance of financial and administrative malpractices, which has led to deceit of over US$55k and LD$2m.

According to the GAC’s report, the NCHE Management failed to maintain Fixed Assets Register/listing, to provide detailed information, including cost of asset, date of purchase and coding.

“Due to the absence of fixed assets Register/listing that meets the requirement of the Public Financial Management Act, we were unable to obtain reasonable assurances as to the accuracy and completeness of the assets owned by NCHE,” the report said.

The report indicated that for the period from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, those who were questioned for the administrative and financial affairs of the Commission include  Dr. Michael P. Slawon,  Director General (August 2006 to January 2018) and Dr. Kadiker Rex Dahn, Deputy Director General (Oct 2013 to January 2018).

Deputy Director for Administration Prof. Dahn (July 2008 to present), who is serving as Acting Director General, was questioned over administrative compliance, while Mrs. Esther M. Tolbert, Finance Officer ( May 2004 to present), was examined strictly on financial compliance.

The GAC’s report was investigated by the Joint Committee on Public Account and Expenditure of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate on Monday, April 16, wherein alleged indictees were in attendance.

According to the GAC’s report, a copy of which is with the Daily Observer, the GAC has said it has observed during the conduct of the audit that the NCHE raised vouchers amounting to US$55,725.00 and L$2,265,045.00 respectively, without the use of Pre-numbered sequential Voucher system.

During Friday’s press conference, Prof. Dahn admitted to being held liable for “administrative compliance,” arguing that he was not given the chance by former Director General Dr. Michael Slawon.

He stressed that as Acting Director General since last month, he has begun establishing and maintaining internal financial and administrative controls.

Prof. Dahn earned a master’s degree in Education and Regional Science. He currently teaches at the University of Liberia (UL) graduate school. Previously, he taught mathematics at the undergraduate school of the UL.

Meanwhile, Prof. Dahn has appealed to the legislature for an increment in the 2018/2019 Budget.

The NCHE was established by an Act of the National Legislature on March 29, 1989, to collect comprehensive data on Higher Education Institutions, establish data-banks on all tertiary institutions and to create a website for NCHE.

The Act also charges the management to formulate broad-based policy guidelines for the establishment of institutions of higher education in Liberia, to serve as a principal liaison between institutions of learning from post-secondary level, to monitor, evaluate and accredit all institutions of higher education, as well as to improve new and existing programs of higher education for funding.

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