OpinionsEcon 101Confidential funds and Intelligence funds

Confidential funds and Intelligence funds

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What’s with Confidential  and Intelligence Funds (CIFs)?

Lack of transparency, limited accountability, and unchecked discretion characterize corruption which has long been a pervasive issue in Philippine governance.

National government agencies can get both confidential and intelligence funds under the General Appropriations Act; while local governments per LGU annual budget, and government-owned and -controlled corporations can only get confidential funds with authorization from the Governance Commission for GOCCs.

The joint circular requires all agencies to submit quarterly accomplishment reports on the use of Confidential and Intelligence Funds. All disbursements need to be supported by documentary evidence of payment and certification of the accountable officer signed under oath. If the funds are misused, the budget officer, chief accountant, treasurer, and project officer may be held liable.

Confidential funds  are used for related expenses related to surveillance activities in civilian government agencies, intended to support its mandate or monitor its operations.

Intelligence funds are utilized by uniformed and military personnel in information-gathering activities in pursuit of ensuring national security and other defense concerns.

Robert Klitgaard’s formula for corruption: C=M+D-A (Corruption is equal to Monopoly plus Discretion  minus Accountability)  underscores the importance of systems to combat corruption effectively.

It is crucial to shift the focus from individual motivations imputed to politicians to developing robust systems that limit discretion, and exact accountability, especially in the use of CIFs by government agencies .

One pressing concern is the proliferation of agencies with CIFs. In the 2024 budget, 28 agencies have been allocated CIFs, raising questions about the legitimacy of their entitlement.

This trend sets a dangerous precedent, as more agencies may begin to claim CIFs for themselves.

The guidelines  on CIFs were laid down  in a 2015 joint circular among the Commission on Audit, the Department of Budget & Management, the Department of the Interior & Local Government, the GCG, and the Department of National Defense.

According to the 2015 joint resolution, confidential funds can only be used for expenses like: the purchase of information necessary for the formulation and implementation of programs, activities, and projects relevant to national security and peace and order; rental of transport vehicles related to confidential activities; maintenance of safehouses; purchase or rental of supplies, materials, and equipment that cannot be done through regular procedures without compromising the information-gathering activity; rewards to informers; uncovering and preventing illegal activities that pose a clear and present danger to agency personnel or property, or other facilities and resources under the agency protection, done in coordination with appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Intelligence funds can only be used for strictly intelligence and counter-intelligence activities that have direct impact on national security, special projects and case operation plans as approved by the head of agency involving covert or semi-covert psychological, internal security operation, and peace and order activities, as well as programs, projects and campaigns against lawlessness and lawless elements involving intelligence activities. Let’s be vigilant!

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Author’s email: [email protected]

 

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