8 July 2010 | Andy Allen
Four interim non-executive directors have been appointed to the board of Northern Ireland Water (NIW) to replace those sacked following a breakdown in procurement standards at the utility company.
Regional development minister Conor Murphy has appointed Peter Bunting, Lawson McDonald, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Kevin Steele to the board. They will replace Chris Mellor, John Ballard, Ruth Thompson and Declan Gormley, who were dismissed in March following a “serious breakdown in the governance and control framework” of contract approvals.
The Northern Ireland executive said the appointments would be for an interim period of not more than nine months, when permanent board members would be appointed and the long-term governance arrangements of water and sewerage services re-examined.
The NIW board conducted an internal review after chief executive Laurence MacKenzie became aware of a breach in the organisation’s licence and governance arrangements.
A single tender action – where a contractor was appointed without any competitive process for work worth nearly a quarter of a million pounds prompted an independent investigation.
The Department for Regional Development and NIW then commissioned an independent report which reviewed procurement governance issues, analysed failures and made recommendations to strengthen processes and ensure proper compliance.
Breaches included failures to put contracts out to competitive tender, instances of failing to attain appropriate internal approval, as well as deals running on extensions outside the permitted contract terms.