06 June 2002 | David Arminas
The government wants its top procurement advisory body to vet future lottery hand-outs to avoid procurement debacles such as the proposed new Wembley National Stadium.
Tessa Jowell, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, has written to the chairmen of all lottery distributors, who decide who gets lottery money, urging them to seek advice from the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) before giving money to large-scale risky projects.
The move is part of a planned consultation document on how best to spend lottery cash, to be launched before the House of Commons rises in mid-July for its summer recess.
The consultation period should last for three months and then the government will decide on future rules for distribution of the money.
A spokesman for Jowell told SM: "She has written to lottery distributors to tell them that high-risk, high-profile projects should go through the OGC's Gateway purchasing review process before the end of the consultation period.
"That period may throw up better suggestions. It comes from trying to learn the lessons of what's gone wrong at Wembley.
"The intention is to establish a discipline for the distributors to safeguard lottery money."
Among the chairmen to receive letters are those of the Arts Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Community Fund.
Jowell acted after a parliamentary select committee slammed the government over its lack of control of the £120 million of lottery cash given to Wembley National Stadium Limited, which is a subsidiary of the Football Association (FA).
The committee heard evidence from Tropus, the project management and procurement consultancy brought in to handle the project, that many of the purchasing procedures fell below accepted practice.
David Hudson, Tropus's chairman, told the committee that no formal contract existed with the builder Multiplex.
He added that the deal was based solely on a two and a half-page letter from a director of Multiplex offering to build the stadium for £326 million.
But the price had soared to over £715 million by last December before the government ordered the FA to get an independent assessment of its deal.• What do you think? Vote in our online poll on the main homepage