Sunday, May 19, 2024

Auditor-General queries services procurement by Waikato Uni

The Auditor-General has written to the University of Waikato to outline his concerns regarding the university’s procurement processes followed when procuring services from Joyce Advisory Limited.

“We were interested to know more about how this procurement had been carried out and whether it accorded with best practice expectations for a public organisation,” said Auditor-General John Ryan.

In October 2019, the University entered into a contract with Joyce Advisory Limited to provide services. The contract described those services as including serving on the Board of the Division of Management, providing presentations to international delegations or short courses on public policy, economic policy, and the business environment in New Zealand, supporting University delegations in their interactions with officials overseas, and providing advice as requested by the Vice-Chancellor and other senior staff at the University.

The contract was for three years and was for a total minimum agreed amount of $288,000. The contract was extended in 2022. By October 2023, the amount paid to the contractor since the start of the contract was about $1.1 million. This amount was for the work initially contracted and additional work requested by the University. We understand the contractor’s work is on-going, the Auditor-General said.

“The University has said to us that the work done by the contractor also included strategic advice on recruitment and marketing, leading an enrolment review, work to increase the Waikato Management School’s profile and hold its annual Economic Forum, and leading projects about the University’s website, intranets, and Customer Relationship System.”

The Auditor-General says the University has confirmed that the contract was a direct procurement and there was no engagement with any other potential suppliers. The Vice-Chancellor negotiated and signed the contract with the contractor, agreed and supervised the work, and approved the payment of invoices, he said.

“The Vice-Chancellor has also said to us that he used the authority he had in the procurement policy to waive the provisions of the policy to carry out the direct procurement, rather than carrying out a competitive process that the policy would otherwise require for a procurement of this value.”

In a letter to university Chancellor, Sir Anand Satyanand, the Auditor-General’s Office says it did not see clear and documented reasons for why and how the services were procured, or how the University considered the overall cost.

“In the absence of that explanation, it is difficult for the public to have assurance that public money has been appropriately spent.”

“We do not make any comment about the quality of the services that have been and are being delivered by the contractor,” said Mr Ryan.

Mr Ryan said the letter has been published publicly because the issues outlined provide wider procurement lessons for other public organisations.

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