26 September 2023

Auditor buys into dodgy procurement

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An independent assurance audit of procurement practices in three Victorian Departments and one Agency has found that all failed to follow their policies and procedures.

Responding to allegations of conflicts of interest in the procurement process, Auditor-General Andrew Greaves examined the practices in the Departments of Health and Human Services (now the Department of Health; Families, Fairness and Housing; Jobs, Precincts and Regions; and Parks Victoria, finding that while nothing came to his attention that indicated self-interest, “none of the Agencies fully followed their policies and procedures.”

In his report, Managing Conflicts of Interest in Procurement, Mr Greaves said that failing to manage their procurements properly made it difficult for the Departments Agency to demonstrate that their procurement decisions were fair and impartial, obtained value for money and were transparent, as they were expected to be.

He said the Victorian community put its trust in the Public Service to effectively and efficiently administer public funds and they expected Public Servants to follow policies and procedures when they procured goods and services.

“They want value for money,” he said.

“Victoria’s Public Servants are also bound by a code of conduct with guiding principles of integrity, impartiality, accountability, and respect.”

Mr Greaves said his report made nine recommendations – two each to the Departments of Health and Families, Fairness and Housing and three to the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions which they all accepted. Parks Victoria received two recommendations but accepted one in principle alone.

The Auditor-General said there were lessons learned from this audit that could be applied to any procurement process.

“Overall, this review highlights the need for improved staff awareness, training and compliance with procurement policies and procedures,” he said.

“Staff need to consistently declare and manage any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest due to personal or professional relationships with a supplier. Each department needs to ensure it supports its staff with the guidance to do so.”

The Auditor-General’s 64-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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