The Anti-Corruption Commission could not start a project to use modern technology at its offices due to fund shortage in nearly three years.
In 2017, the ACC took a four-year plan to set up a digital archive and digital forensic lab and bring all of its offices under a single network.
The project titled Strengthening Capacity of Anti-Corruption Commission is aimed at improving the ACC’s capacity to combat graft.
It also planned to set up a crime database management software and develop an online database of criminals.
“Initially, the expenditure was estimated to be Tk 1 crore. The government approved the amount. But we later realised that it will take at least Tk 10 crore to implement the project,” said an ACC official, requesting anonymity.
“Having a system will be of no use if officials don’t know how to use it. The officials need to be sent abroad for training,” he said, adding that the expenditure of training was also not estimated at first.
The ACC appointed a consultant for the project but very little has been done so far.
The need for a digital forensic lab came to the fore after a phone conversation between suspended ACC director Khandaker Enamul Basir and deputy inspector general Mizanur Rahman got leaked recently.
To verify the audio clip that contained evidence of bribery by the officials, the ACC had to send the file to National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre.
Moreover, there is no formal way of communication among different departments of the ACC across the country.
“Introducing e-governance and a digital system is a timely demand,” he added.
When a complaint is received, it is sent to an evaluation committee. If the committee members find the allegation credible, they send it to the commission for approval of an enquiry. The three-member commission then appoints an enquiry officer. After the enquiry is done, the officer submits a report for further action. Depending on the findings, the commission approves filing of a case and appoints an investigation officer. The officer then investigates the case and submits its report to the commission. If the commission approves of the report, the charges are pressed against the accused.
The entire process is based on paperwork, prolonging the process.
“It is one of the reasons behind the delay in investigations,” said a high official of the ACC.
Digital services will speed up the whole process, he added.
Asked, Project Director Jalal Saifur Rahman declined to make any comment over the delay.
“We’ll float tenders soon,” he said, adding that implementation of the project was underway.
Meanwhile, the Indian Government has invited ACC officials for a training on digital forensic lab at Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, said Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, public relations officer at the ACC.
The commission plans to send its officials for training next April.
On September 29, ACC Secretary Muhammad Dilwar Bakth requested the Indian High Commission to facilitate the training.