Save Our Schools today called on the Acting Chief Minister to explain why the contract for the latest school site consultation was not subject to public tender. SOS spokesman, Trevor Cobbold, said that the Government exempted the contract from the normal public tender process for government contracts over $100 000 and has failed to justify the exemption.
“It is ironic that the Government puts out a contract for public consultation yet avoids the due public process to decide which firm is awarded the contract.
“There are also other anomalies with the contract:
- The regulations require the Government to state reasons for contracts of this size being exempted from public tender but it has failed to do so.
- The Government has failed to make the contract publicly available on its contracts register website.
- The Letter of Acceptance of the tender appears to give scope to add unspecified sub-consultants at additional cost to the taxpayer. (http://www.contractsregister.act.gov.au/contracts/cr.nsf/0/D7A188F7FD7782DECA257459001E9C30?OpenDocument)
- The consultations are to begin within 2 weeks of being announced and will only last 4 weeks and some communities will get less time to respond.
“Many questions need to be answered. The Acting Chief Minister should publicly state the reasons the GHD contract didn’t go to public tender. Many other firms could have delivered this service.
“The Acting Chief Minister also needs to explain why the contract is open to further additional costs to the taxpayer beyond the $245 000 specified and whether there is any limit to those amounts.
“Why did the Government need to rush this contract through and by-pass normal procedures? Is it to avoid giving advance notice to the public in order to limit public participation?
“It appears that the new consultation is designed to restrict public participation and impose the privatisation of urban green space on communities. The consultation is seeking community views on options to sell-off green space that were decisively rejected during the consultations conducted by Purdon Associates last year.”
Mr. Cobbold explained that the contract awarded to GHD to consult on housing options for 8 school sites is for $245 000 and should have gone to public tender as required by the Government Procurement Regulation 2007. The Regulation provides for exemptions, but the Government is required to give reasons for any exemptions (s.10). The Contracts Register states that the GHD contract is “single select”, which means that it has been specifically exempted from the normal tender process.
Mr. Cobbold said that the failure to go to public tender is yet another abuse of due process that has littered the whole school closure program.
“The ACT community has endured a litany of abuses of due process by the Stanhope Government since the school closure program was announced in 2006. Communities have been denied relevant information, provided with misleading information, subject to sham consultations and given false assurances.
“It is time the Stanhope Government was called to public account.”