A STATE Government investigation has delivered a scathing assessment of Goulburn Mulwaree Council’s multipurpose centre tendering process.
The Division of Local Government report, released to the public on Friday, found that Council contravened regulations, ignored tendering guidelines and offered unfair advantage to two tenderers including the successful tenderer, Bathurst firm, Hines Constructions.
The report delivers a massive serve to council staff involved in the tendering process for the controversial $5.7 million facility at the Goulburn Recreation Area.
“While there is no direct evidence, there must be concern that Council’s internal processes were swayed by a complaint made by the successful tenderer,” the report stated.
“The report indicates significant failures, not the least of which are breaches of the Regulations and a failure to give sufficient consideration to the Guidelines.
“Council embarked on a process without adequate consideration and without having the capacity to proceed with the project.
“Its subsequent processes have demonstrated significant flaws.”
General manager Chris Berry said Council would implement every recommendation and was already doing so.
“While the report is critical of Council’s tender process, it did not identify any corrupt conduct,” he said.
The report blasted the tender evaluation panel – comprising two Council staff and an independent member for Queanbeyan City Council – for breaching its own probity plan.
Council’s internal processes demonstrated poor planning and execution, the report stated.
It found the panel breached regulations by “negotiating directly” with two of the tenderers and failing to evaluate each tender.
The Division of Local Government’s chief executive Ross Woodward advised Mr Berry of the final report in a letter signed on June 25.
“While I acknowledge that the contents of this report may cause some embarrassment to the Council, I believe that it is in the public interest that the report not be treated as a confidential document,” he wrote.
He said councillors took no part “in the issues that are the subject of the report” and demanded “all Council staff, including all senior staff” involved in tendering processes undertake training.
The report stopped short of ordering a full scale government investigation.
“Further, in light of Council’s apparent failure to implement the recommendations of the Promoting Better Practice report of October 2009, I require that Council immediately prepare and formalise a set of tendering guidelines to assist staff when processing tenders,” Mr Woodward’s letter noted.
Council must report back to the Division of Local Government on how it has responded to its recommendations within six months.
It’s understood a rival tenderer on the facility being constructed on Braidwood Road triggered the Division of Local Government inquiry.