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Health ministry breached awards process, says contractor general

Published:Thursday | March 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell,
Senior Staff Reporter

Contractor General Greg Christie has rapped the Ministry of Health and regional health authorities for breaching the Government's contract award principles by reportedly awarding contracts unlawfully.

In a report on its investigation into the procurement practices of the ministry, Christie reprimanded the ministry for non-compliance with the Government Procurement Procedures Handbook.

An investigation was launched by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) on March 11, 2008, after a "concerned nurse" wrote, in August 2007, to then opposition leader Bruce Golding complaining that the ministry's procurement practices were riddled with corruption, particularly in the awarding of certain contracts for janitorial and portering services. The OCG report, which was tabled in Gordon House yesterday, covered contracts from as early as 2001 to 2009.

The OCG says the breaches occurred as a result of the extension of several contracts for the provision of janitorial and portering services. It says no approvals were sought and/or obtained from the National Contracts Commission (NCC) for a number of contracts.

Didn't ensure best value

In a sharp rebuke, the OCG says the health ministry spent taxpayers' money without ensuring that the best value was attained.

Two major companies offering janitorial services were named in the report as having received most of the contracts from the ministry and its regional health authorities.

The findings of the OCG indicated that, for the period January 2000 to October 2007, the ministry made payments to the two companies for services provided. However, it says these payments were not supported by a contract and or purchase order.

The ministry later admitted that it did not seek the approval of the NCC for the extension of the contracts to the two companies, citing "an oversight on the part of the agencies and the ministry".