Sun | Aug 18, 2019

AG finds Education Ministry breached rules in giving CMU nine building contracts

Published:Tuesday | July 23, 2019 | 7:17 PM

The Auditor General has found that the Education Ministry engaged the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) in nine multi-million dollar school construction contracts without following the required procedures.

In a report tabled in Parliament today, the Auditor General said the ministry entered into design and build contracts with the CMU for the construction works after a warning by the National Contracts Commission in relation to previous contracts presented for approval under the emergency and direct contracting methods.

As at July 2019, the ministry has paid $171 million for works at the nine schools.

But given proposed contract variations submitted by CMU, the contracts sum is expected to increase by $59 million or 27 per cent from $218 million to $277 million even though none of the contractual deadlines have been met.

“We noted that CMU commenced undertaking the variation works without the required approvals,” read a section of the report.

The Auditor General also said the ministry bypassed the due-diligence of its procurement committee and further breached the procurement guideline by failing to obtain the approval of the Contracts Commission for seven of the contracts, based on the values.

At the same time, the Auditor General said of the nine school construction contracts, the CMU only provided practical completion certificate for only one.

Then, the report said the ministry also bypassed the requirement to obtain the requisite approvals from the local municipal authorities and the Jamaica Fire Brigade, to ensure that the buildings meet the established safety standards.

“We found no evidence of a framework agreement or memorandum of understanding, which should establish a formal relationship between MoEYI (Ministry of Education Youth and Information) and CMU for the design and build construction works or evidence of negotiation to arrive at the best prices,” the Auditor General reported.

According to the report, this may have contributed to CMU not obtaining approval from the ministry to carryout variation works.

Meanwhile, the Auditor General said the records at CMU did not readily allow her team to determine how the monies were spent under the various projects and the CMU had not met the requests to disaggregate the expenditure has not yet been met.

However, the report says the matter will be pursued and further addressed in an audit report on the special investigation of CMU.

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