Page 1786 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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… I am confident that procurement processes to engage the service provider were consistent with all procurement policies and practices and that given the enormity of the transformation work, the investments in CIT via these contracts represent value for money.

Following receipt of this written advice, in subsequent conversations with the CIT chair and CEO I conveyed my expectation that CIT would pay close attention to value for money, government procurement policy and community expectations in the expenditure of public funds when undertaking future procurements.

In December 2021 the CIT CEO then advised my office that the institute was considering undertaking further procurement activity, in addition to or as an extension of these contracts. While I did not participate in this conversation, I am advised that my office reminded the CEO of the government’s previously stated concerns that indicated that further procurements might not be considered to be consistent with community or government expectations. I am advised that, at this time, CIT’s CEO indicated that the institute would go through a full and open procurement process if it ultimately decided to proceed with procuring further change management and professional services of this kind.

So it is fair to say that I was as concerned as any other member in this place to be informed earlier this week, on Monday, 6 June, that CIT had signed another very substantial contract with the same provider. Neither I nor my office were aware that this procurement was in train, prior to receiving advice from CIT that the contract had been signed, and we were not involved in any stage of the procurement process or the selection of this provider.

I want to highlight that this is as it should be. Ministers and our offices absolutely should not be directly involved in procurement processes by government agencies or public entities like CIT. All procurements involving the expenditure of public funds must be handled at arm’s length, with the strictest levels of integrity and probity. This means ensuring that decisions are taken by appropriate delegates without involvement or interference from ministers, especially in the case of an entity with a statutory governance structure like CIT, which has its own governing board and executive.

So, having been made aware of this contract on 6 June, yesterday, on Tuesday, 7 June I wrote again to the chair of CIT’s board, seeking an explanation and a response to a series of specific questions. I tabled a copy of that letter yesterday, during question time, so it is on the public record for all to see, Madam Speaker. My letter noted a requirement for the CIT board to respond within five working days to the letter.

Yesterday afternoon Labor and the Greens members in this place then further moved to provide information about these contracts to the ACT’s Auditor-General for their consideration and advice. That was not supported by the Canberra Liberals. I want to be clear here that I am not, and the government is not, defending the signing of this latest $4.99 million contract. I have asked the CIT chair to explain how and why it has been signed. Together with Greens colleagues, we have presented that information via this place to the ACT’s Auditor-General to consider whether a further inquiry is

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