Will there be accountability?

It hasn’t been very high profile, but the Auditor-General has just reported on another case of shocking behaviour within Government. We await with bated breath to see if anyone – whether Minister or staff, will take any responsibility and consequences for what happened.

This is all to do with Allen & Clarke, a firm set up by two former Ministry of Health staff. Back on the 19th of August 2004 Murray McCully asked Annette King how many contracts had that firm recieved from their former employer.

Now Ministers are required by standing orders to respond within six days. Or about a week. For week after week and month after month the Minister stonewalled and refused to answer. Then some 210 days after the six day deadline had expired, the answer came back there had been 24 contracts worth $1.2 million.

Then after the issue was referred to the Auditor-General, the Ministry admitted to another 18 contracts, making the total 42. But it gets better and twice more the number grew until they revealed that there had in fact be 60 contracts. And 56 of these 60 contracts were non-competitive – ie just given to the former staff members.

The Auditor-General has found “inadequate contracting rules, breaches of those rules that do exist, internal auditors being ignored, a lack of competent staff, breaches of conflict of interest rules, a failure to ensure value for money, a lack of monitoring of contractors

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