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Elizabeth Lee calls for review of procurement decisions from past five years | The Canberra Times

news, act-politics, integrity commission, construction, procurement, elizabeth lee, act government

The ACT’s opposition has called on the government to commission an independent review of all procurement decisions over the past five years, after the ACT’s Integrity Commissioner suggested probity issues were endemic. Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee has written to Chief Minister Andrew Barr calling for the audit to “provide Canberrans with the highest level of assurance that public funds are being expended with probity, transparency and integrity”. Ms Lee’s letter came after ACT Integrity Commission Michael Adams QC took the extraordinary step last week to call on the construction industry to come forward about improper conduct related to government procurement processes. When pressed about his call in an annual reports hearing last week, Mr Adams said issues identified with a $17.5 million primary school upgrade were unlikely to be a one-off incident. He flagged that the commission was considering an investigation into procurement. A report from the Auditor-General released in December has prompted the examination of procurement processes within territory government. The audit report investigated the 2019 ACT government’s tender for the construction of new buildings on the Campbell Primary School campus, the report found the tender process lacked probity and tenderers were not dealt with fairly, impartially and consistently. MORE A.C.T. POLITICS NEWS: Manteena was identified by two tender-evaluation teams in three separate reports as the preferred tenderer. The Canberra-based company quoted a lower price and scored higher against the weighted criteria. Despite this, Lendlease won the contract for the school in June 2020. The audit found the decision to award the tender was not based on the initial evaluation criteria the government went to market with, but was based on a reweighted and reprioritised criteria. It also found that communication with tenderers and other parties was informal, uncontrolled and poorly documented, which undermined the probity of the procurement process. Ms Lee said an independent review of procurement processes over the past five years was necessary to ensure the issues with the Campbell Primary School procurement process were not replicated across other directorates. “It is extremely concerning that the Independent Commission has come out very publicly saying that issues with procurement process in the ACT government might be endemic,” Ms Lee said. “If the Chief Minister and his government have nothing to hide, they must agree to this independent audit of procurement decisions.” In the letter to Mr Barr, the Opposition Leader acknowledged the review could be costly but said Canberrans needed assurances. “I trust you will give this proposal due consideration. While the expenditure of resources required for such an audit may be a factor, I suggest the need to demonstrate that any systemic issues will be proactively identified and addressing by your government surely is determinative,” Ms Lee wrote in the letter. While the audit report sparked the interest of the Integrity Commission, officials from the Education Directorate told an annual reports hearing last week they did not believe the procurement warranted a referral to the commission when they received the report. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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