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NZICT Group Calls for the Establishment of a Procurement Ombudsman!

Press Release   •   Nov 30, 2010 01:41 GMT

NZICT Group Calls for the Establishment of a Procurement Ombudsman!.

Clare Curran, Labour's communications spokeswoman, has tabled a private members bill that if passed would establish a commission of inquiry to determine whether the Government could and should have a policy that gave preference to local procurement without breaching international obligations.

A procurement reform group of which New Zealand’s Information and Communication Technologies industry (NZICT) was a part of had revised and republished the procurement complaints process.

Chief Executive of the NZICT Group, Brett O’Riley has been hopping mad, claiming that technology firms had for a long time felt unable to pursue complaints for fear of harming their relationships with public sector clients.

"As an industry, we do have several outstanding issues that we’d like to have addressed. Firstly, there are times when a request has been made for information or proposals, and the applicant isn’t aware of what the final decision has been. In such a case, companies have incurred costs on the basis that their proposals would process. Secondly, there are also times when, in the middle of the tender process, new changes are made without the applicant being informed. Thirdly, there are also known incidences where confidentiality has been breached."

According to NZICT Group spokesman, the ombudsman’s job could be an independently established position or picked up by someone who is already in a similar role, and who would have oversight of all government procurements, and not just the ICT.

"Every time there is an issue that takes a while to resolve, that's additional cost to both parties and we want to minimise the number of cases that involve legal costs," said O’Riley.

Meanwhile, Don Christie, spokesman for breakaway lobby group NZ Rise, has set up shop to represent the interests of New Zealand-owned office equipment firms. He also joined O’Riley in calling for a “Procurement Ombudsman”, who should have a monitoring role to oversee the amount of work and public money that went to New Zealand-based companies.

That would help identify whether procurement processes are being breeched, meaning cutting out local vendors. “With a Procurement Ombudsman in place, we’d be able to register our complaints with the assurance that the matter will be investigated and just be done,” said Christie. He also felt that the ombudsman could also field and mediate complaints of discrimination.

NZ Rise further believed the Government's move to set up public sector-wide purchasing "mega-contracts" for items such as computers and photocopiers so as to deliver shared services is a backward move, and one that discriminates against smaller service provider. "That prevents those companies from providing specialist knowledge and specialist services. It's good for the one or two people procuring, but it's not good for driving value into government," argued Christie.

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