Contractor General Dirk Harrison and the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) are now embroiled in a war of words over his office's special investigation into the right to supply 360 megawatts of power to the national grid.
Stating that the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) had taken note of the OUR's response challenging its findings, Harrison accused the regulating body of obfuscating the real issues associated with the transaction.
The OUR had, last Friday, declared the OCG's findings were "patently incorrect and unsupported by the requirements of government policy and the law".
The regulator further stated the contractor general had displayed, "at best, a deficit of understanding of how the Government's procurement guidelines would apply to this process, or apparently had a preconceived notion of process and, therefore, found it expedient to redefine an informal process into a formal one to make the case".
Yesterday, Harrison said his office stood by its findings.
He also reiterated key points in the special report, including that the publishing of a "notice" and the consequent receipt of other proposals after the published announcement clearly showed there was solicitation, despite the OUR's claim that it engaged in the receipt and acceptance of unsolicited proposals.
He said the process adopted by the OUR after the established cut-off date of March 15, 2013, and the conclusion of the evaluation of said proposals received prior to the cut-off date, to facilitate the acceptance of the Energy World International (EWI) proposal, was unfair and irregular and a clear breach of the Contractor General Act.
He restated that the OUR did not publish a new cut-off date to give any other interested proposer an opportunity to submit a proposal. He also stressed that the acceptance of EWI's proposal, after the evaluation process, and absence of the rigours to which others were subjected was irregular and unfair.
Harrison said the OUR took one day to evaluate EWI's proposal and not the contracted consultant Mott MacDonald, contrary to the National Contracts Commission's (NCC) instruction. He argued this action constituted a clear circumvention of the instructions of the NCC, "the said body that the OUR is now relying on to legitimise its actions".
According to Harrison, the OCG in its introduction section of his report weighed the importance of this project to national develop-ment, and highlighted the need to create a balance between economic development and probity in Government of Jamaica transactions of this nature.
STRIKING A BALANCE
He said the OCG was "aware that the generating capacity must be scheduled to meet future demand, but more importantly, solutions must be developed to ensure that value for money and probity is considered a priority and is achievable".
"In striking that balance, the OCG was left with no other alternative but to consider two courses of action, which it could have recommended to the OUR," he said.
One action, he said, was "given the untidy, inappropriate and irregular state of affairs and the poor handling of a very significant project of such significant national interest, the process is to be aborted in its entirety".
The other was to rely on certain fundamental principles and tenets attendant to certain provisions of the GOJ Procurement Guidelines and the Contractor General Act, in an effort to preserve the integrity of the process, since the OUR was acting inconsistent with GOJ policy.
Harrison said in the national interest, and to maintain a balance without compromising the integrity of the process, the OCG chose the latter.
Instead of accepting the OCG's recommendation not to accept the EWI proposal, he said the OUR sought the counsel of the NCC. He said the OUR cannot rely on the NCC to legitimise its actions, while circumventing the said instructions prescribed by the NCC.
"The OUR cannot have it both ways," he said.