13 April 2006 | Anusha Bradley
Bradford Metropolitan District Council's procurement process has been censured by the Audit Commission for a £1.2 billion contract to manage council property. The spending watchdog criticised the authority's procedures and documentation.
An investigation was launched after the procurement process for a facilities management provider was halted last June, following an anonymous tip-off to the public spending watchdog.
Ivan McConnell, district auditor, has published a report based on an eight-month investigation. He cites the "inability of council officers to employ effective procedures" to manage the project.
Examples include officers changing bid scores without explanation and one senior officer chairing both the technical and financial bid evaluation meetings, putting them in a "position of potentially significant influence".
It concluded that Bradford failed to document the process properly, there was no project management team and staff were "stretched beyond their capacity".
Responding to the criticism, a council spokesman told SM
the authority has accepted the Audit Commission's findings. It added that the procurement service was staffed by professionally qualified purchasers.