Procurement errors in Guam police car deal

18 May 2011

18 May 2011 | Angeline Albert

A contract to supply 14 police cars to the Guam Police Department (GPD) was awarded to an unqualified bidder because of poor purchasing.

This was the verdict of an audit report conducted by the Office of Public Accountability (OPA) in the US territory. It found the General Services Agency (GSA) that is responsible for government procurement, awarded the vehicle deal to a vendor whose certificate of authority – which allows a supplier to bid for a contract - had expired. The review said the GSA was aware of this fact.

The report concluded the “GSA erred in accepting and awarding the bid to an unqualified bidder.”

The GSA also intentionally bypassed the Office of the Attorney General, which must review all contracts worth more than $500,000 (£308,095) according to the report. Initially, the intention was to purchase 12 patrol vehicles for a total of $515,940 (£317,884). But by buying 14 cars – which reduced the cost of each vehicle individually - the GSA was able to lower the cost of the contract to $490,000 (£301,879), and therefore avoid the additional scrutiny, which would have revealed the problem with the certificate.

“Had this procurement gone through the Attorney General’s review, this defect may have been discovered and the other vendor awarded this bid,” the report added.

The document also revealed time-consuming changes to the procurement. The tender was amended five times and one amendment changed 10 bid specifications to make requirements less restrictive. These included requirements to do with the cars’ engine size, wheel base, electrical system, brakes, seats, tyres and wheels, and exhaust system. These changes to the tender meant there was 10 months between GPD’s receipt of funding in February 2010, to the delivery of the new police cars in December 2010.

“The errors disclosed in our review, as well as the number and nature of procurement appeals brought before the public auditor, underscore the need for more procurement training and legal advice at GSA,” Guam public auditor Doris Flores Brooks said in the report.

Brooks also recommended the GSA appoint full-time legal counsel to advise and guide them throughout the procurement cycle due to the volume and size of purchases it handles. These recommendations will now have to be enacted.

The GSA has not yet responded to SM’s request for comment.

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