When news broke that a female IT executive in Singapore had possibly coerced--via, erm, extremely friendly tactics--two high-ranking government officials into awarding her company lucrative contracts, it triggered discussions about whether this industry was indeed prone to fraud.
The indiscretion of the heads of Singapore Civil Defence Force and Central Narcotics Bureau resulted in an investigation that involved the supply of IT products and services to the government bodies.
The scandal was the talk of the town and highlight of news reports almost daily for weeks after the news first broke. Some in the industry felt the attention was unfair, arguing that scandals like these were unlikely unique to IT and even more commonplace in some other verticals.
While we're no experts in sex scandals, we ran a report this week to look at whether IT tenders were indeed susceptible to fraud. Consultancies we spoke with noted that certain traits of tech procurement could very well make them more vulnerable to such risks.
"In IT procurement, as the value of the projects is usually larger and involves more phases including design and implementation or intangible services, there could be more room for abuse," said Neo Sing Hwee, partner of advisory services at Ernst & Young Advisory.
The technical intricacies of such projects also make it tougher for other non-IT staff involved in the approval process, such as the finance and business heads, to spot loopholes or determine if there is genuine need for such deployments.
Coupled with the tendency for IT projects to involve high-value investments (read: lucrative sales commission), tech procurement carries higher fraud risks compared to some other verticals.
Above all, both the private and public sectors have to understand the risks and recognize that no matter how highly paid their executives and officials are, it is human nature to always want more--whether in terms of monetary returns or other forms of rewards.
So the necessary checks and balances must be put in place, regularly updated, and reinforced when needed. After all, to err is human.