The Office of the Auditor General in its latest report has flagged purchasing breaches within the National Roads Authority.
Those breaches included goods purchased without tendering, without obtaining quotes from different suppliers or without justification for single-sourcing, all of which are contrary to the requirements of the Financial (Amendment) Regulations and the Procurement Law, the report stated.
“Examples of non-compliance noted include the purchase of aggregates for various projects in the amount of $495,000 in 2018 and purchase of vehicles totaling $244,000,” the report said.
The irregularities were highlighted in Auditor General Sue Winspear’s report on government’s financial reporting for 2018, which was released this week.
The NRA admitted to breaching the law but said in its response to the findings that it was looking at addressing the issues raised.
“Management will endeavor to ensure full compliance with the Procurement Law, 2016 and Procurement Regulations, 2018. The Authority accepts that whilst value for money was achieved on the procurement of the two dump trucks, the Authority did not comply with the Procurement Law/Regulations,” the NRA stated in its response.
The authority said it took “minor exception” with the audit office’s observations regarding the Carmannah lighted crosswalks, the purchase of which was also flagged in the report.
“These lighted crosswalks are proprietary systems and should arguably be regarded as single source/direct award procurement given that:‐ 1) The NRA previously demonstrated [value for money] in comparison with other similar systems, 2) Standardization of the electronic sign equipment ensures that the NRA is able to match an existing brand of signal for compatibility,” it said.
According to the NRA response, the policy directives obtained from the Central Procurement Office do not require Public Procurement Committee or Executive Procurement Committee approval for singles-source/direct awards amounting to less that $100,000. The majority of the Carmannah lighted signs procured during the 2018 fiscal year were for a special pedestrian safety project at the Owen Roberts International Airport.
As for the aggregate purchase, the NRA said it has operated under a long-standing but informal arrangement with local quarries to procure aggregate/fill material for road construction.
“Following a meeting with the Financial Secretary in 2007, it was agreed and understood that quite often no one or two local quarries are able to supply large quantities of aggregate in a timely manner on NRA capital projects,” the NRA added.
Other deficiencies identified
Auditors also noted discrepancies between the NRA’s fixed assets register and its year-end fixed assets count records.
“Assets with a net book value of $62,000 at 31 December 2018 were reflected in the asset register, but were not counted at year end based on the asset count records. There are assets reflected in the year-end count records but not reflected in the asset register,” the report noted.
Additionally, it said, fully depreciated assets that cost $907,000 were deleted from the asset register during the year, “yet they were still held at year end per the physical asset count records”.
The NRA said in its response that it recognised certain assets appear on its financial fixed asset schedule which are not held under the direction of the fleet manager, and thus do not appear on the fleet manager’s asset schedule.
The assets are monitored and are under the care of other senior staff due to their nature, the NRA added.