Former APNU/AFC REO changed health centre contract without retendering – PAC hears

…writes letter admitting act, says “sorry” for actions

During Monday’s perusal of the 2016 Auditor General report at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), sparks flew over a contract’s varied scope of works for which no approval was sought and for which all the former Regional Executive Officer (REO) could say was sorry.
On Monday, officials from the Region Two Regional Democratic Council (RDC) came up before the PAC. One area of concern in the AG’s 2016 report was the reduced scope of works for a contract at the Marlborough Health Centre, Lower Pomeroon.

PAC member and Governance Minister Gail Teixeira

Instead of the works on a timber bridge, perimeter fence and revetment, it was discovered that the entire contract sum was used to construct a longer timber revetment. The audit Office found that no bridge or fence was constructed and no approval or variation order was ever presented for the changes.
“The regional administration should ensure in future that works are retendered when there is an entire change in the scope of works to allow for competitive bidding and fairness to all bidders and variation orders are prepared and approved in keeping with the conditions of the contract when there are changes to the scope of works,” the Auditor General had noted.
In a missive to Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Issacs, former REO Rupert Hopkinson wrote that not seeking approval for the changes to the scope of works was an oversight and expressed regret.

Former Region 2 APNU/AFC appointed REO Rupert Hopkinson

“It has been realised that revetment was an emergency work. It was an oversight that no approval was sought, this effort is regretted and such occurrence has stopped,” Hopkinson wrote of paragraph 673.
However, PAC member and Governance Minister Gail Teixeira was unamused, noting the seriousness of the matter. She highlighted the points made by Auditor General Deodat Sharma on the matter, documented in the report, and noted that there have been several violations of due process.
“I want to ask to look at the recommendations of the Audit Office, which is the crux of the mater… the response of the regional officer was that this is an oversight. However, the Auditor General is making a very serious charge here. To ensure that works are retendered when there is an entire change in the scope of works.”
“There are two recommendations and both are very serious recommendations. This is not just about the works committee. This is about where the regional administration is being called to books. Whether it’s the works committee or the engineer, they all failed! In that they changed the scope of works without approval.” (G3)