(CNS): The government ended up awarding a scrap metal contract to the wrong bidder because it focused purely on the price offered by one contractor rather than on experience and ability. The Office of the Auditor General has highlighted that the price tag can sometimes disguise other problems and that getting value for money for the public purse does not always mean going for what appears to be the cheapest deal. In a special interest report the OAG found that the Department of Environmental Health should have awarded a 2013 contract to Island Builders and not Cardinal D.
Government has faced an ongoing issue of dealing with the enormous amounts of scrap metal, largely fueled by the damage caused in Hurricane Ivan some 12 years ago. The OAG report looked at the last contract in a long line of deals that failed to prove as lucrative as government had hoped.
In the first report signed off by the new auditor general, Sue Winspear, the auditors found that the technical committee reviewing the two bids gave too many points to the wrong firm simply because of the price tag per ton of scrap metal, and as a result the contractor that secured the bid took too long and did not complete the job.
The auditors make it clear, however, that there appeared to be no inappropriate or intentional selection of Cardinal D over Island Builders for the contract, which was awarded just before the government handover from the previous administration to the PPM.
The auditors found that the technical committee members and the civil servants involved in the Evaluation Summary and Tender Award Recommendation (ESTAR) report simply gave too many points to Cardinal D for the higher price per ton on offer when their competitors, Islands Builders, had better equipment, more relevant experience, a proper line of credit to cover the highest potential amount of metal, were more compliant with labour and pension laws and had the right equipment.
The report also found that Cardinal D’s previous failures on two earlier and separate scrap metal removal contracts appeared to have been overlooked, and the auditors wrote that they “failed to deliver the minimum level of scrap metal removal despite being afforded two contract extensions”.
In a release about the report, the auditors stated that there were still opportunities for government departments to improve how officials carry out the process of tendering. But the new auditor general remains hopeful that the recent changes in government management systems and the introduction of new procurement legislation will see marked improvements.
“Recently, there have been some very positive developments that promote more effective procurement practices, including the passage of new legislation and the creation of a Central Procurement Office,” said Winspear. “This report identifies opportunities for better guidance to government officials involved in the acquisition of goods and services.”
See the full auditor general report in the CNS Library