Rule breach sinks £10 million deal

21 June 2006
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22 June 2006 | Paul Snell

The Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency is reviewing its purchasing procedures after the collapse of a £10 million deal.

The agency cancelled its procurement of the "Minna-type" fisheries protection vessel after a report it commissioned found the process it used breached public purchasing rules.

The breaches included technical specifications requiring bidders to submit tenders using the agency's preferred manufacturers and suppliers. This is prohibited by the rules.

Another issue was the agency's use of both a "restricted" procurement procedure and a final bid stage. The two cannot be used on the same deal. A "restricted" process means a shortlist of tenders can be drawn up, whereas in an "open" procedure all tenders must be assessed.

After propulsion systems for the boat became available early, the three bidders were asked to submit a revised final bid price and a timetable for delivery.

The report said a restricted procedure was chosen to speed up procurement and suggested the agency wanted to spend part of the £10 million cost in that financial year. It added that while the project team was very experienced, "they felt it was not necessary to justify and document procedures and processes".

This lack of recorded evidence, together with review's recommendations, led the agency to cancel the 10-month procurement process in May.

A spokesman for the agency at the Scottish Executive told SM it is now reviewing all procurement processes. The review will be completed next year and will also detail the cost of the termination.

SMjun2006

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