Since the dawn of New Government Accounting System (NGAS) and the emergence of Obligation Request (ObR), there has been a divided interpretation on its use particularly when to issue the said form. Some say it must be issued together with the Purchase Request (PR) before any procurement takes place. Others argue that it is only proper to issue ObR after award has been made. There is only one thing in common and the author believed both ‘sides of the coin’ will have to agree – that an ObR is required prior to accomplishing a Disbursement Voucher (DV).
To understand the nature and purpose of the Obligation Request we have to go back to the roots of government accounting and auditing rules as well as the applicable laws under the Local Government Code (RA 7160). Let us define first some important terms under Section 306 of RA 7160:
(b)”Appropriation” refers to an authorization made by ordinance, directing the payment of goods and services from local government funds under specified conditions or for specific purposes;
(j)”Obligations” refers to an amount committed to be paid by the local government unit for any lawful act made by an accountable officer for and in behalf of the local unit concerned;
The above definitions are important to better understand this discussion, especially in the purview of Local Government units. Now looking on Section 344 of RA 7160:
Section 344. Certification, and Approval of, Vouchers. – No money shall be disbursed unless the local budget officer certifies to the existence of appropriation that has been legally made for the purpose, the local accountant has obligated said appropriation, and the local treasurer certifies to the availability of funds for the purpose. Vouchers and payrolls shall be certified to and approved by the head of the department or office who has administrative control of the fund concerned, as to validity, propriety, and legality of the claim involved. x x x
Being self-explanatory, it appears that there shall at least be three persons issuing a certification prior to any disbursement- the Budget Officer, the Accountant, and the Treasurer. To comply with this, the a Joint Circular was issued by Department of Budget and Management and Commission on Audit in the form of Request for Obligation of Allotment (ROA) immediately after the effectivity of the Local Government Code. ROA was also made in compliance of Section 360 of RA 7160.
Section 360. Certification by the Local Budget Officer, Accountant, and Treasurer. – Every requisition must be accompanied by a certificate signed by the local budget officer, the local accountant, and the local treasurer showing that an appropriation therefor exists, the estimated amount of such expenditure has been obligated, and the funds are available for the purpose, respectively.
Later, the ROA evolved rapidly into many names and forms. It became Allotment and Obligation Slip (ALOBS) in the advent of NGAS Manual thru COA Circular 2002-003 dated 20 June 2002. On 28 February 2005, COA issued Circular No.2005-001 introducing Obligation Slip (OS) to replace ALOBS. This form was again immediately replaced by the Obligation Request (ObR) that we currently use to date by virtue of COA Circular 2006-002 dated 21 January 2006.