Public Service Commission plots history of procurement irregularities

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irregular procurement.jpgSome 720 cases of irregular procurement practices in the public sector have been identified by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The irregular practices involved officials awarding government tenders without following policies and procedures and buyers awarding contracts to friends and family or rigging tenders in exchange for kickbacks.

The PSC identified control weaknesses that it says enable these irregular practices, such as officials disclosing classified information to contractors and service providers; contractors / suppliers paying bribes to contract supervisors; and in some cases tender specifications being ignored or altered to the advantage of a particular bidder.

The PSC analysed 7 766 incidences of corruption reported to the National Anti-Corruption Hotline between September 2004 and June 2010.

The 720 procurement cases were found in, among others, nine national departments and three provincial governments which were scrutinised.

Problems the report identified included:
• A lack of ‘declaration of interest’ procedures or policies for accepting gifts,
• Failure to enforce internal disciplinary measures against purchasing staff,
• A lack of prosecutions of companies involved in corrupt practices,
• No mechanism to blacklist offenders found to be involved in fraud.

The commission recommended that departments periodically conduct surprise procurement audits of selected projects to identify weaknesses and malpractices in purchasing processes.

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