Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board will discuss whether hiring of CAO's daughter for $60K contract showed bias

CAO family bias?

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board of directors will soon discuss whether an incident that saw the daughter of the district's CAO hired for a $60K contract was a conflict of interest.

Amanda Newell of Sundog Solutions was awarded the contract to do a "complete review of [the RDOS'] emergency management program" on Dec. 15, 2022.

Newell is the daughter of Bill Newell, RDOS chief administrative officer. Sundog Solutions underbid competitor Red Dragon Consulting by roughly $3,000 and was given a higher overall score on the quality and detail of the bid, subsequently coming out on top, according to a document prepared by RDOS staff for presentation to the board.

Newell did not discuss his relationship to the winning contractor with the board when he shared the news that Sundog Solutions had been chosen.

The question raised afterwards is whether Newell should have withdrawn from the final proposal evaluation.

"There was no pecuniary interest in this matter for the CAO although, in hindsight, one could see that there might be a perception of bias to those not having full information on the process and evaluation factors in the selection process," reads the document from Newell that board members will discuss at their next meeting.

The potential conflict of interest matter was due to be discussed on Thursday, Feb. 15, but some members of the board did not receive the staff document outlining the disclosure document outlining steps that led to Sundog Solutions' hiring.

At that meeting, Newell called it a "glitch" in the director-member email service, and the board decided to move the matter to its next meeting, March 2, to allow all members to review the document.

Newell provided a copy of the document to Castanet Thursday and declined comment further than confirming the matter will be before the board next week.

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