View on pandemic procurement: contracts for cronies

View on pandemic procurement: contracts for cronies

A report on federal government contracts during the earliest wave of the pandemic reveals an alarming disregard for due diligence and process

Supplies of face masks, gloves and visors’ During the very first 6 weeks of the pandemic, the government paid out £10.5bn in contracts that had been given without going to competitive tender.’  

77 At prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Boris Johnson suggested that while in the first wave of Covid 19 there had been a need to “remove blockages to the procurement process” to deal with the pandemic. Effectively, that’s absolutely one way of applying it.

The damning report released this week by government auditors, which examined Covid-related contracts handed to businesses during the spring and summer, is equally shocking and illuminating. In certain cases, ministers didn’t a great deal of get rid of “blockages” as forget about due diligence as well as proper process altogether. Cronyism was rampant, as companies together with the ear of ministers and Tory MPs accessed large sums of taxpayers’ cash.

Of the first six weeks of pandemic, the government paid out £10.5bn in contracts that ended up being awarded without going to competitive tender. A “high consideration channel” was put in place for PPE bids that were championed by an MP or a minister, and were therefore judged more credible. As governance professionals have pointed out, within normal circumstances companies with back links to “politically exposed persons” would be considered high-risk, rather than of good priority. 

Occasionally, officials seem to have been which makes it up as they went along. The paperwork for several contracts was composed retrospectively, months after the relevant job was completed. In a few situations, there was insufficient proof outlining why a firm was picked for a certain job. In others it was not very clear why the deal couldn’t be put out to competition.

The National Audit Office report lists a series of eyebrow-raising deals, several of which have just come to light as result of investigations by this specific and other media organisations. A government adviser to the Board of Trade and the international change secretary, Liz Truss, facilitated a £253m face conceal contend with Ayanda Capital, a London based investment firm. The official, it switched out, happened to additionally be an adviser to Ayanda Capital, but wasn’t included in due diligence examinations made after the agreement was awarded. The 50m masks bought were judged unsuitable.

Two former aides to Michael Gove had been awarded a contract for up to £840,000, to do focus organizations on the government’s pandemic effect. The agreement was retrospectively written up as well as the NAO discovered there was a lack of ser guid to justify the alternative, and show consideration of potential conflicts of interest. Topham Guerin, the business enterprise which ran the Conservative party’s social networking campaign during the election, was paid £1.5m for services made in the spring. The NAO found no documentary evidence of the government’s requirements when the work began.

In the spring season, ministers had been scrambling to catch up with the strategies of a pandemic for that the nation was woefully ill-equipped. In these kinds of situations of “extreme urgency”, public procurement laws permit the waiving of regular match rules.

But an expedited course of action shouldn’t be one in which getting a Tory MP or perhaps government adviser on your side, or even on the payroll of yours, opens doors which are actually closed to others. The auditors have concluded that “standards of transparency” weren’t regularly met by the authorities. That’s to set it mildly. Taxpayers’ money was utilized with a disgraceful disregard for proprieties that must always be observed, even in a pandemic.