Australian police flouted buying rules

18 November 2009

18 November 2009 | Jake Kanter

An ombudsman's report into IT purchasing by the Victoria Police found several examples of failure to adopt proper procurement and contract management procedures.

In one instance, the report said, buyers prepared paperwork for a contract worth AUS$20.1 million (£11 million) in 24 days, instead of the recommended 10 to 18 months.

During this period the authority secured an exemption from the Victorian Government Purchasing Board from tendering the deal competitively on the basis it would receive a discount of more than 90 per cent. However, the ombudsman said Victoria Police's business and technology department failed to properly scrutinise the details of the deal. In addition, the police authority was criticised for enlisting the help of its incumbent supplier to analyse competitors for its evaluation report.

A separate example saw the organisation redirect a security services contract from IBM to Fujitsu. The deal was valued at over $11 million (£6 million), but was awarded to Fujitsu for $27.2 million (£15 million), overspending on its budget by $15 million (£8.3 million).

The investigation also identified numerous instances where IT buyers accepted hospitality from suppliers, including invitations to the Australian Open tennis tournament and the Melbourne Cup horse races. These vendors were later involved in tendering processes.

The ombudsman recommended that Victoria Police comply with the Victorian Government Purchasing Board's procurement policies and ensure all changes to contracts above a set value are subject to board approval. It also suggested Victoria Police establish a facility to oversee major procurement projects.

Simon Overland, chief commissioner of Victoria Police, accepted the recommendations. In a statement, he said: "We need to do a lot better in relation to information technology and complying with processes around procurement and contract management.

"I recently appointed a new executive director to manage our IT area. He has started work and I am sure that over time he will be in a position where he absolutely ensures better performance around IT services within Victoria Police."

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