Audit reveals JCF $multi-million payouts failed fairness, transparency tests
Livern Barrett, Senior Staff Reporter
A significant number of the multi-million-dollar expenditures undertaken by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) did not meet "important principles of fairness, competition and transparency", a performance audit has revealed.
The expenditures included bills for food, fuel and facility repairs.
At the same time, the audit, which was conducted by the Auditor General’s Department (AGD), lauded the police for implementing measures that resulted in a gradual reduction in the volume of fuel purchased.
The report, which was made public today, covers the five-year period between the 2013-14 fiscal year to the 2017-18 fiscal year.
The AGD chided the police, asserting that they did not always get the best price for goods and services purchased because the JCF routinely ignored the competitive bidding process and opted, in most cases, for the direct or emergency contracting method.
As an example, the report revealed that the JCF used the emergency, direct emergency and direct contracting methodologies for $1.8 billion or 81 per cent of contracts totalling $2.2 billion to provide meals for detainees, clothing and uniforms for police officers as well as repairs and maintenance of facilities.
According to the report, the annual sum of $828 million of its food and drink expenditure was paid to supply meals for detainees over the five-year period.
"In many instances, the annual sums paid exceeded the threshold, which would require the use of competitive bidding. In those cases, JCF would not have satisfied itself that it paid the best price for construction and repair services and that the procurement process was transparent," the AGD said.
The report, however, noted the auditors found a number of measures that were aimed at driving down fuel costs.
These include a daily refuelling limit for each service vehicle, the monitoring of fuel purchases for each vehicle by comparing volumes purchased against the tank capacity, reconciliation of refuelling transaction receipts with Jamaica Automobile Association system and assigning fuel baseline efficiency ratios for different types of vehicles.
The AGD said since the introduction of the daily refuelling limit in July 2011, the JCF has seen a gradual declining trend in the volume of retail fuel purchased, which fell to 6.4 million litres in 2017-18 from 7.7 million litres in 2013-14.
“Despite the gains aforementioned, JCF still had significant room for improved efficiencies and economy. JCF failed to establish clear linkages between the annual operational targets and related procurement activities. This apparent disconnect between the annual operational plans and procurement plans limited the JCF’s ability to schedule the acquisition of goods and services on a timely basis to and achieve value for money spent,” the report said.