Three Lines of Defence Framework
MINDEF/SAF adopted the Three Lines of Defence (3LoD) Framework as a guiding model for outlining responsibilities and accountabilities over governance, risk management and internal controls since 2014.
First Line of Defence
MINDEF Departments and SAF Units serve as the first line of defence (1st LoD). They are responsible for maintaining effective internal controls on a day to day basis. To further enhance the governance and control culture, a system of self-check was implemented.
The self-checks are performed using Risk and Internal Control Evaluation (RICE) checklists developed by the Internal Audit Department (IAD). RICE checks provided MINDEF Departments and SAF Units with a disciplined approach in assessing the state of health of controls within their organisations. The results of the RICE checks are reported at appropriate forums for management emphasis and oversight.
Second Line of Defence
The second Line of Defence (2nd LoD) pertains to the oversight functions performed by the various oversight committees, Compliance outfits and Services Inspectorates. They are responsible for monitoring the systems and processes to ensure proper execution of policies and processes. For example, the Enterprise Risk Management Steering Committee and the SAF Safety Steering Committee maintain oversight of enterprise risks and safety related risks respectively.
Third Line of Defence
MINDEF/SAF has a comprehensive and robust system of internal and external audits. We have in place a systematic and disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the adequacy and effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes, ensuring that MINDEF/SAF achieves its organisational goals.
IAD aids MINDEF/SAF in the conduct of internal audits and is well qualified to do so. IAD is a corporate member of the Institute of Internal Auditors. The majority of IAD staff have also attained at least one or more of the professional designations such as Chartered Accountant (Singapore), Certified Internal Auditors and Certified Information Systems Auditor.
To provide assurance on the quality of its auditing activities, external assessments had been conducted and reviewed by qualified and independent corporate organisations such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young. IAD's audit activities were assessed to conform to the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing set by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA).
IAD performs audits and reviews on behalf of the MINDEF Audit & Risk Committee (MARC), chaired by MINDEF's Permanent Secretary (Defence Development). All audit reports are tabled to the MARC, which meets every two months, for discussion. On an annual basis, IAD submits a comprehensive report that assesses the effectiveness of MINDEF/SAF's internal control systems to the Minister for Defence.
Besides conducting audits and reviews on behalf of the MARC, Director, IAD, may initiate audit projects at any time, and decide the scope, approach and extent of each audit. The audits can cover key functional areas of MINDEF/SAF such as Finance, Procurement, Logistics and Human Resource. IAD adopts a Risk-Based Audit Approach in the conduct of audits.
IAD also conducts special examinations and inquiries into allegations or instances of impropriety, mismanagement and other irregularities and proposes recommendations to prevent such incidents or lapses from occurring again. In addition, IAD conducts talks, seminars and courses to educate MINDEF and SAF organisations and units on the importance of strong controls and risk management. IAD also assists all levels of management in MINDEF/SAF to promote improvements in policies, programmes, operations and processes.
MINDEF Departments and SAF Units are subjected to audit by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO). Through these independent audits, AGO plays an important role in enhancing public accountability in the management and use of public funds and resources. The Auditor-General is appointed by the President under Article 148F of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1999 Revised Edition) to audit and report on the accounts of the Government Ministries, Organs of States and Statutory boards. Every year, the Auditor-General will submit to the President the Report of the Auditor-General, giving an account of all audits conducted, including all the significant findings. The report will be published and made available to the public. For more details, please visit the AGO's website.
Parliament also appoints a Select Committee, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) comprising Members of Parliament, to work closely with the AGO to conduct regular scrutiny of the Government's expenditure and accounts, including MINDEF's defence budget. The PAC does this regularly and puts up its report and recommendations annually to Parliament. Over the years, there has been active scrutiny by Parliament, arising from the Auditor-General's Annual Reports and the PAC Report, including lapses detected in the Singapore Government’s procurement practices. Any lapses reported in the Auditor-General's findings will be looked into by the PAC. Thereafter, the PAC will make recommendations, where appropriate, to prevent recurrence. The report of the PAC is also made readily available publicly, demonstrating the Singapore Government’s openness and accountability to the public.