OCG rules that education ministry breached Government procurement guidelines
Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer
The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) has ruled that the Education Ministry breached Government procurement guidelines when it awarded a contract to Cable and Wireless Jamaica for the provision of Internet connectivity in 2011.
The OCG says it started its probe last September after receiving complaints about alleged irregularities surrounding the award of contracts to support the Ministry’s Education Management Information Systems.
The Ministry awarded contracts to Cable and Wireless Jamaica and Columbus Communications Jamaica to deliver Wide Area Network connectivity to regional offices and the Fiber Link at its Caenwood-based offices.
The contract to Cable and Wireless for the provision of connectivity to link all regional offices was worth US$204,120.
In a report tabled in the House of Representatives yesterday, Contractor General, Dirk Harrison, concluded that there was no evidence to indicate that the contract was approved by the National Contracts Commission.
He also says the Education Ministry did not even follow its own internal procurement processes by not having relevant documents submitted to various committees for independent reviews to ensure transparency.
Harrison says the evaluation and awarding of contract to Cable and Wireless Jamaica was unfair and irregular and was not even appropriately signed.
According to him, only the month and year was written on the contract.
However, the Contractor General says despite the numerous breaches, there was no evidence to indicate that any public officer of the education ministry involved in the procurement exercise, held any undisclosed interest in Cable and Wireless Jamaica Limited.
Harrison outlined seven recommendations including that the ministry’s accounting and accountable officers ensure scrupulous compliance with the Handbook of Public Sector Procurement Procedures.
He says the permanent secretary Elaine Foster-Allen should take a more proactive and aggressive role in developing, implementing and enforcing effective risk management systems, checks and balances for the project.
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