A fresh effort is under way to ensure accountability and transparency in any new local administrative organisation procurement projects and installation of so-called sculptural street lights.
The move followed the notorious 871-million-baht procurement of solar-powered street lamps topped with mythical kinnaree figures by the Racha Thewa tambon administration organisation (TAO) in Samut Prakan, which has led to at least 40 people being charged with misconduct.
"An investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman has found there still are many local administrative organisations considering implementing similar procurements," said Issaree Hunsacharoonroj, the Ombudsman.
"These are costly endeavours that have yet to prove their value, he said.
"The Office of the Ombudsman, Comptroller General's Department [CGD], State Audit Office, Department of Local Administration and Ministry of Interior have therefore discussed measures to improve their accountability and transparency," he said.
According to Mr Issaree, the CGD will set up a new shared database of median prices for agencies to refer to when implementing or inspecting high-value street lamp purchases.
He said local administrative organisations will now have to notify the Office of the Ombudsman ahead of all bulk orders of the item.
"A scientific approach will be carried out to assess the median prices of those sculptural street lamps which many local administrative organisations are interested in using to demonstrate their local identity," he said.
More importantly, he said, as street lamps are aimed primarily at improving light on the streets at night, in a situation where normal street lamps are enough to serve this purpose, the high-priced sculptural street lamps might be unnecessary.
As for the need to show off the local identity for the sake of promoting tourism, he said decorative street lamps need only be installed in certain important sections of a street.
"Guidelines for procuring sculptural street lamps will be issued to all local administrative organisations, while district and provincial administrative authorities will be instructed to closely monitor every new procurement and report back to the Ministry of Interior."