A "significant failing" in Glamorgan Spring Bay Council's procurement process has left Local Government Minister Mark Shelton feeling "concerned".
In a report tabled today in State Parliament by Tasmania's Auditor-General Rod Whitehead, the East Coast council, along with Break O'Day Council and Derwent Valley Council, came under the microscope for their compliance with procurement and reporting obligations.
It comes after the minister advised the council in June that he would be issuing it a performance improvement direction, based on advice from the local government director that the council may have been in breach of provisions in the Local Government Act relating to a requirement for it to establish, review and publish financial and asset management plans.
"Compliance with requirements ensures purchasing is conducted in accordance with the key principles of: open and effective communication; value for money; enhancing the capabilities of the local business industry; and ethical behaviour and fair dealing," Mr Whitehead said.
The Auditor-General was particularly critical of Glamorgan Spring Bay, saying that while the council had a tenders and contracts code that complied with local government legislation, there was evidence it hadn't followed annual reporting requirements for procurements "exceeding public tendering thresholds".
"I was unable to conclude on Glamorgan Spring Bay Council's compliance with the requirements as the council could not provide the majority of the records of procurement and training activity requested, which was a significant failing," Mr Whitehead said.
Two recommendations were made to help the council improve its procurement practices. These were to introduce a stronger document management system and maintain complete procurement records, and to ensure all procurements above the reporting threshold were included in annual reports.
Glamorgan Spring Bay Council general manager Greg Ingham said the council acknowledged the "shortcomings" in its records management system and practices but noted that steps were being taken to address the issues.
"During 2019-20 and continuing into the current year council have invested in implementing new systems and processes and is in the process of reviewing its code of tenders and drafting a new purchasing policy," he said.
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The report also highlighted the Derwent Valley Council's failure to provide or sufficiently document its justification for not following the recommendations of its tender evaluation panel on two occasions.
Mr Shelton said he welcomed Mr Whitehead's report and that he took council compliance matters "very seriously".
The council could not provide the majority of the records of procurement and training activity requested, which was a significant failing.Rod Whitehead, Auditor-General
"I am concerned to read some of the findings, particularly those relating to Glamorgan Spring Bay Council and Derwent Valley Council," he said. "Accordingly, I will be contacting each council to discuss their proposed responses to the recommendations contained in the final report as tabled."
The Glamorgan Spring Bay Council has been mired in controversy over the past year, with former mayor Debbie Wisby resigning after having bullying and harassment allegations made against her - claims she said were "unfair" and were affecting her health. In August, the council appointed its fifth general manager in the space of 12 months.
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