Beautiful Virgin Islands

Monday, Feb 06, 2023

COI recommends full audit of all major gov’t contracts in last 3 years

COI recommends full audit of all major gov’t contracts in last 3 years

The Commission of Inquiry (COI) report has recommended that all major contracts exceeding $100,000 that were considered and approved by Cabinet over the last three years should be the subject of a full audit performed by the territory’s Auditor General.
The audit should also look at projects that were considered and approved by ministers of government on their own as well, the report stated.

The COI report said the audit should include major projects that have been the subject of contract splitting or sequential contracts.

During the course of the COI, it was discovered that 60 per cent of all major government contracts were being split into smaller ones by the then Andrew Fahie-led government.

With contract splitting, the tender process is usually waived by Cabinet and multiple contractors are selected to execute a project.

Meanwhile, in the COI report submitted to Governor John Rankin by Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom, it was recommended that the terms of that audit exercise should consider whether there has been any manipulation of a project to avoid open tender requirements.

In further explaining this, the report said the audit should look at whether contract splitting or the use of sequential or otherwise associated contracts for the same substantive project was employed.

The report further noted that the adequacy of any reasons for a waiver of the open tender process in existence should be looked into.

In the report, Sir Gary said how and by whom the contractors were selected — whether the projects were completed; and in cases where they were not –, the estimated cost and likelihood of completion and value for money should also be investigated.

The report further stated that the audit could also be conducted by another independent person or a body instructed by the Auditor General and added that a report on that audit should be presented to the governor afterwards.

The Commissioner added that unless the relevant BVI authorities consider otherwise, further steps including any criminal investigation and steps towards the recovery of public money can await the outcome of that audit.
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