No Auditor-General probe of council procurement

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The Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) won’t be formally investigating Queenstown council’s procurement practices.

In a media statement on Wednesday, chief executive Mike Theelen says staff are reassured by the OAG’s findings that the council’s own review of its procurement practice is on the right path.

“The OAG’s findings mirror that of council’s and endorse the commitment to the current review that is underway and other actions such as putting in place a procurement steering group,” Theelen says.

“We pride ourselves on being a learning organisation and will take on board the learnings from this as staff develop the new policy and guidance which is fit-for-purpose and includes a programme to ensure it is embedded throughout the organisation.”

The OAG concluded there were no improper actions in the engagement of consultants ZQN.7 to review three bylaws, but the council should’ve ensured robust processes were followed to demonstrate clearly how and why decisions were made.

The statement says the council acknowledges its staff deviated from its policy and guidelines, but their actions were lawful and had the intent of getting value for money and delivering projects in time.

The OAG found no evidence of undeclared conflicts of interest, despite concerns about elected member involvement in procurement, stating “the decision to engage ZQN.7 to complete the work was made by council employees, with no involvement by elected members, including the mayor”.

A revised procurement policy and guidelines are now being worked on, and will be presented to the council for approval later this year, Theelen says.