audit agency-anti-corruption drive

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- State auditors will focus on conducting a special probe into irregularities by high-level public officials in 2013 as part of efforts to promote their integrity and create a transparent society, the audit agency said Friday.

During an annual meeting involving the country's 185 agencies that have the authority to inspect public servants, the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) vowed "intensive efforts to detect corruption particularly among senior officials to prevent them from hurting the lives of the people," according to its statement.

While devising disciplinary measures against those caught for the delinquency of duties, the government will be lenient to the officials who make minor mistakes while working hard to serve the people, the BAI added.

The focus of this year for the auditors will also be put on checking local governments' expenditures and restructuring wasteful projects so as to boost their financial health, according to the agency. With the goal, the BAI published a guideline booklet that introduces 703 cases of probes over the past five years that resulted in 1.7 trillion won (US$1.52 billion) of budget reduction among local entities.

The BAI also said it will conduct an intensive audit into four major fields of safety -- natural disasters, accidents, harmful substances and school violence -- to root out factors that threaten public safety.

"We will work this year with a focus on the three pillars of expanding budgets, stabilizing people's livelihoods, and eradicating corruption to achieve a clean and trustful government," BAI chief Yang Kun said.

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