William Eichler 11 April 2018

Council criticised for procurement ‘maladministration’

A council in Northern Ireland has been criticised for ‘maladministration’ in its procurement of stewarding services.

The public services Ombudsman has upheld a complaint against Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, stating the local authority did not follow proper procurement procedures for an event in 2016.

The complainant Andrew McQuillan claimed he had been told his company could bid for the contract to provide stewarding services for Armed Forces Day, but was later told it had already been awarded to another company.

The Ombudsman concluded the council should have obtained a quote from Mr McQuillan’s company, as well as the other company (referred to in the report as Company A).

It said not to do so amounted to ‘maladministration’.

‘The council’s failure to obtain a quote from the complainant’s company to provide stewarding services at Armed Forces Day did not meet the requirements of the council’s financial regulations,’ the report stated.

The Ombudsman also criticised the events assistant for not disclosing their former connection with Company A and for advising the company to keep its quote under procurement thresholds.

The assistant’s actions were ‘inappropriate’, the report said.

‘I am satisfied that the maladministration I identified caused the complainant to experience the injustice of a loss of opportunity to have his proposal considered by the council,’ the Ombudsman concluded.

‘He also experienced the injustice of frustration and uncertainty and outrage based on his belief that the Council’s procurement in this case was improper.’

Responding to the report, a council spokesperson said: ‘The council has received the report and is in the process of implementing the recommendations.

‘The report will be considered at the next meeting of the Audit Committee.’

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