ACT Integrity Commission calls on builders, construction industry to dob in suspicious ACT government procurement processes | The Canberra Times

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The ACT’s corruption watchdog has called on the construction industry to come forward about any improper conduct in ACT government procurement processes after an audit identified problems in the way a contract was awarded for a primary school upgrade. The Integrity Commission is considering an investigation into the procurement process for the Campbell Primary School modernization project, after the Auditor-General found significant deficiencies with the way its tender was handled. Integrity commissioner Michael Adams QC has called on businesses in the design, building and construction industries to report their suspicions about government procurement processes to the commission. “Businesses which have tendered for government contracts are encouraged to contact the Commission where they reasonably suspect corrupt conduct has occurred, or is occurring, in government procurement or in relation to any aspect of the ACT public sector’s operations with which they have been involved. want to hear from you,” Mr Adams said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon. The procurement process for an upgrade of the Campbell Primary School campus lacked probity and tenderers were not dealt with fairly, impartially and consistently, the damning report from the ACT Auditor-General found late last year. The Integrity Commission believes the deficiencies identified by the Auditor-General warrant “an examination of the evidence collected by the Auditor-General to consider whether a commission investigation into the procurement process in this case is justified”. In July 2019 the ACT government called for tenders for the construction of new buildings on the campus to accommodate 450 students including a canteen, STEM and small group program facilities, landscaping and refurbishment of the school hall. Manteena was identified by two tender evaluation teams in three separate reports as the preferred tenderer. The Canberra-based company consistently scored higher against the weighted evaluation criteria and quoted a lower price. Despite this, Lendlease won the contract for the school in June 2020 after the acting executive group manager of the Education Directorate’s business services division made a recommendation to director-general Katy Haire without adequate reasoning. The audit found the decision to award the tender was not based on the initial evaluation criteria the government went to market with, but was based on a reweighted and reprioritised criteria. It also found that communication with tenderers and other parties was informal, uncontrolled and poorly documented, which undermined the probity of the procurement process. MORE ACT POLITICS NEWS: An ACT government spokeswoman last year told The Canberra Times the government acknowledged the report and would consider the recommendations seriously as part of its commitment to transparency and accountability. “All relevant directorates are currently considering the report. The ACT government will respond to the audit’s recommendations in early 2022. The government response will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly,” she said. Mr Adams told ACT budget estimates in October 2021 government procurement as a systemic issue could be considered by the commission. “I am prepared to disclose that procurement is on our table as an important question,” Mr Adams said at the time. The commission released its first report earlier this month, finding there was no reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct by either Chief Minister Andrew Barr or officials over the controversial 2015 purchase of land adjacent to Glebe Park. The purchase of the block had drawn attention after it was revealed the government bought it for four times the amount of one valuation. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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