Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Brown: Serious flaws in public service procurement

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Cabinet Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

The Public Service Commission’s report into contracts linked to Cabinet Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s family has exposed serious flaws in how the public service deals with conflicts of interest, National’s Public Service spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

The report, ordered by Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes, suggests the public service has developed a culture of carelessness in how it procures contracts and manages perceived conflicts of interest, undermining public confidence.

“The findings of the report show the Ministry for the Environment had several opportunities to address issues with their procurement processes into awarding a contract to Ms Mahuta’s husband Gannin Ormsby. Instead of being driven by effective and robust procurement processes, the ministry was driven by its own deadlines,” says Brown, the MP for Pakuranga.

“Even more concerning, Kainga Ora did not even ask about any conflicts of interest during its procurement process with Mr Ormsby’s company, a basic requirement for government agencies.

“It is deeply concerning that the report found agencies failing to comply with the procurement guidelines and rules set out by the Public Service Commission. The report begs the question of how widespread these failings are in the public service.

“The PSC’s report has today recommended new guidance for government agencies dealing with conflicts of interests, but the question must be asked, if government agencies were failing to comply with the existing guidance, why will they follow the new guidance?

“Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins needs to step up and explain why agencies are failing to practice effective and robust procurement processes and how agencies deal with conflicts of interest.

“It is essential that taxpayers have confidence in how the Government awards contracts involving taxpayer money.”

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