View on pandemic procurement: contracts for cronies
A report on government contracts during the first trend of the pandemic reveals an astonishing disregard for due diligence and process
Supplies of face masks, gloves and visors’ During the first 6 weeks of pandemic, the governing administration given out £10.5bn in contracts which ended up being awarded without going to competitive tender.’
Seventy seven At prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Boris Johnson suggested that while in the earliest wave of Covid-19 there had been a want to “remove blockages to the procurement process” to deal with the pandemic. Effectively, that is absolutely one way of adding it.
The damning report released this week by authorities auditors, that examined Covid related contracts handed to companies during the spring and summer, is simultaneously shocking and illuminating. In a few cases, ministers did not a great deal of eliminate “blockages” as overlook about suitable process and due diligence entirely. Cronyism was rampant, as businesses together with the ear of ministers plus Tory MPs accessed massive sums of taxpayers’ cash.
Of the initial six weeks of pandemic, the federal government paid out £10.5bn in contracts that had been given without going to cut-throat tender. A “high consideration channel” was created for PPE bids which were championed by an MP or a minister, and were thus judged more reliable. As governance consultants have pointed out, in normal circumstances companies with back links to “politically exposed persons” is seen as high risk, rather compared to high priority.
Sometimes, officials appear to have been which makes it up as they went along. The paperwork for certain contracts was written retrospectively, months after the relevant work was completed. In certain cases, there was insufficient documentation explaining why a firm was selected for a certain job. In others it was not very clear why the deal could not be put out to competition.
The National Audit Office report lists a compilation of eyebrow-raising deals, some of which have just come to light as result of investigations by this and other media organisations. A government adviser to the Board of Trade together with the international swap secretary, Liz Truss, facilitated a £253m face mask cope with Ayanda Capital, a London based investment firm. The official, it turned out, took place to in addition be an adviser to Ayanda Capital, but was not incorporated in due diligence examinations made after the deal was awarded. The 50m masks bought were judged unsuitable.
2 former aides to Michael Gove were awarded a contract for up to £840,000, to conduct focus organizations on the government’s pandemic effect. The agreement was retrospectively written up and also the NAO found there was an absence of a user manual to justify the alternative, as well as show consideration of potential conflicts of interest. Topham Guerin, the company that ran the Conservative party’s social networking campaign during the election, was paid £1.5m for services rendered in the spring. The NAO discovered no documentary proof of the government’s needs before the effort started.
In the spring season, ministers were scrambling to get up with the logistics of a pandemic for which the country was woefully ill equipped. In these kinds of circumstances of “extreme urgency”, public procurement regulations permit the waiving of regular match rules.
But an expedited course of action shouldn’t be one in which getting a Tory MP or government adviser on the side of yours, or perhaps on your payroll, opens doors which are closed to others. The auditors have concluded that “standards of transparency” were not consistently met by the government. That’s to set it mildly. Taxpayers’ cash was used by using a disgraceful disregard for proprieties that should forever be noticed, even in a pandemic.