The General Auditor of the City of Buenos Aires (AGCBA, for its acronym in Spanish) assessed purchases and contracts that the Colon Theater made. Among the many irregularities they highlight that seven direct procurements totaling 19.3 million were not reported. In addition, and despite repeated requests, they never responded to what the 11 million pesos that were transferred to the Colon Theater Foundation, responsible for supporting the lyrical choreographic activity and operational needs were spent.
According to the Theatre’s statements, "in 2010 it acquired the broadcast service, shipping, and billing entries by direct recruitment for a total of 407 thousand pesos". However, data from the accounting system of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, the SIGAF, informed the Audit that the amount of purchases under this system was greater than stated and that the total amount was of 19.7 million. That is, an unreported difference of 19.3 million. Of the 12 cases, "the AGCBA could only access eight."
The AGCBA did not receive a reply when they asked for details regarding "scholarships and grants awarded by the body to natural and legal persons, which for 2010 was 1.4 million pesos." Regarding the latter, the Audit stated that the "Theater was delayed in delivering the full list of purchases and contracts" and when they did, "the information submitted was incomplete."
Petty Cash, Not So Petty
With reference to the information on how they used their petty cash funds, the AGCBA found that that was also incomplete. On the one hand, there were tickets for 154,000 pesos for telephone expenses, restaurants, taxi rides, parking, laundry, and tolls that "no one knew to what person they belonged to or what show they had been used for."
In the special petty cash fund boxes, things did get not get any better. According to what the City Audit detected "20.3 million were paid in fees for artists" and among the documents they had travel and abroad living payments. On this matter they said that "these types of expenditures are, according to the regulations of the Ministry of Finance, prohibited for foreigners or Argentine residents living abroad". Moreover the AGCBA detected a case where an artist’s contract was amended and he wrongfully "ended up receiving the sum of both contracts."
As detailed in the report, which evaluated the 2010 administration and was approved this year, "34.5 million pesos were spent to solve art operating expenses and fees." In this area, all expenditures in excess of 3,200 pesos should be justified with documentation that at least proves that it had been awarded to the most suitable deal. However, "only in the eighth month of the year the theater hiring backups".
Continuing with the special funds, the Audit reviewed the operating expenses for security and surveillance services, purchasing hardware, office equipment rentals, and costumes, which cost the agency nearly 14.3 million. On this point they found that "the purchases were made directly without applying any of the procedures provided in the regulations." Even the City’s Labor Union acknowledged "the existence of errors, omissions, and failures in management."
Because of a "lack of estimate of the economic cost of each show, the watchdog cannot perform a cost-efficiency relation". Therefore the auditors recommended, inter alia, "formalizing the systematization of Theatre invitations" because "there is no resolution that administers the use of booking tickets for the authorities." Thus, the criterion is used exclusively for managing the stage. The audit drew attention to this point because "the quota for 2010 was of 15% of the occupancy of the room".