Ombudsman says bidding is rigged
Sep 2, 2012 / 3:00 pm
A suspicious number of federal contracts for goods and services appear rigged to favour one bidder, suggests a new survey.
The report, from the contracting watchdog at Public Works, provides further evidence of problems with the Harper government's efforts to clean up procurement practices.
The office of procurement ombudsman Frank Brunetta examined all 442 sole-source deals that were posted electronically between July 2011 and January this year.
These so-called advance contract award notifications, or ACANs, are required whenever the federal government plans to buy something without competitive bidding.
The notices are intended to alert unknown potential suppliers, giving them 15 days to challenge the deal by making a better offer.
The survey found that only 247 of the notices, about half, contained enough information about the goods or services the government needed to allow another supplier to mount a competing bid.
And only 100, less than a quarter of the total, appeared to be a "legitimate attempt by the contracting department to test the market for an alternative source of supply."
"The results of this analysis raise questions about whether the policies governing the use of ACANs are sufficiently explicit and unambiguous," says the report.
Brunetta ordered the survey after complaints from former public servant Allan Cutler, whose career was damaged when he blew the whistle on graft during the so-called sponsorship scandal under Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien.
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