All about checks and balances

By Geoff Lee

December 1, 2015 12:49 PM

The city’s draft purchasing policy is expected to be approved at the next regular Council meeting with a set of checks and balances for improved accountability the public has been seeking.
Coun. Jason Whiting told the Source it’s a good quality policy that’s still in the draft format, subject to some further revision prior to it coming to a vote.
“I think it has clarified a few of the things that weren’t exactly clear in the last policy,” said Whiting.
Some of those points made during Your Voice night in November called for accountability in purchasing guidelines and a review of sole source procurements by Council.
“The revisions really answer the comments and the questions that residents have made in the last little while,” said Whiting on Nov. 27.
The impetus for the new policy stems from a sole source service contract with AHHA Moments Inc. — a consulting business managed by former Mayor Jeff Mulligan ­— with the details initially withheld from the public.
Mulligan resigned in Council as mayor on July 22, 2013, the day he signed an agreement with the city to provide it with consulting management services.
However, in his letter of resignation, Mulligan simply said, “Since 2009, I have had the pleasure of working with a superb team at the City of Lloydminster, who are dedicated to delivering unparalleled value to taxpayers.
“I look forward to working alongside these municipal government professionals to build on this positive momentum in any way I can, as we push towards achieving our published goals and plans.”
The city cancelled its contract with AHHA Moments in October 2013 without notice and paid the company a cancellation fee of $120,000.
Mulligan has recently paid that back, although none of that money was legally owed to the city.
Notice of the repayment was noted at the last session of Council in correspondence items.
Details of that contract with the city were finally released this past August by the office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner following the request of a concerned citizen.
“It was never our intention to have issues like this coming up, but I feel confident from here on forward this will be a great piece of policy for our city,” said Whiting.
Council tasked the city with reviewing and updating its purchasing policy during a special session on Oct. 8 to ensure all contracts are made public moving forward.
“I am quite confident we will never get into that situation again like what has happened previously,” said Whiting.
“We’ll have a purchasing policy that’s in place, (one) that rectifies some of the items that weren’t exactly clear in the old purchasing policy.”
A new code of ethics will come to the table in early 2016.
The draft procurement policy will ensure an open and effective competition for all vendors with price and non price factors considered to prevent bias toward a specific vendor.
Competitive procurement methods will include Request for Quotation, Request for Proposal, Request for Expression of Interest and Invitation to Tender.
In addition, the finance department will provide oversight to all purchasing transactions.
No competitive process will be needed however, for all acquisitions and contracts under $15,000.
The policy sets purchasing approval limits with the need for Council to approve all transactions with a value of more than $200,000.
The signature of the CAO or deputy CAO will be needed for amounts up to $200,000 while a director can approve a limit of $75,000, a general manager $50,000 and other staff as delegated up to $15,000.
In addition, any contracts awarded by Council must be signed and sealed by the mayor and city clerk.
The policy also has a set of sole source purchase notification guidelines to be made public.
The New West Partnership Trade Agreement between the the most western provinces requires all goods and services purchases over $75,000 and $100, 000 for construction to be posted to the Alberta Purchasing Connection website.

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