Halifax’s procurement process needs ‘significant improvement,’ says auditor general

Halifax’s procurement process needs ‘significant improvement,’ says auditor general
A new report from the Halifax Regional Municipality’s (HRM) auditor general has found that the procurement process in the municipality is in need of “significant improvement,” with some issues indicating that the HRM hasn’t been complying with provincial law.

The report, released on Wednesday and presented to the municipality’s audit and finance committee by auditor general Evangeline Colman-Sadd, found that employees have access to municipality’s financial system, even when they don’t need them for their jobs.

Colman-Sadd said that employees have the potential to access many parts of a transaction — potentially presenting a “fraud risk.”

The report lists 28 recommendations for the HRM to implement.

The report found that 20 per cent of the 94 procurements audited were missing required approvals at some stage of the process, while monitoring to address noncompliance with the city’s own procurement policy were “weak.”

According to the report, procurement files lacked support to demonstrate that procurements were fair and evaluations were comprehensive.

Colman-Sadd says her team found that Halifax procurement staff didn’t sign conflict of interest forms — which are required under the Nova Scotia Public Procurement Act.

“Evaluators are supposed to sign a conflict of interest form … this is a good practice to help ensure the evaluators are independent and able to fairly evaluate the bids,” the report reads.

But that doesn’t appear to have happened in 56 per cent of the cases that auditors examined, with 18 of the 32 request for proposal files not having signed conflict of interest forms for all evaluators.

Halifax’s chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé says the recommendations are an “immediate priority” for the municipality, while the audit and finance committee has voted for an information report on the subject to be delivered in September.
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