The Office of the Auditor-General has released its findings on how well public organisations support integrity when buying goods and services in an emergency.
In a statement, the Office said it examined the emergency procurement practices of six public organisations subject to the Government Procurement Rules (the Rules).
“We also surveyed all public organisations required to use the Rules about emergency procurements carried out between June 2018 and July 2022.”
“We found examples of good practice, with public officials responding to emergencies in challenging settings. But we also identified several areas where improvements are needed to increase transparency and to support trust and confidence in procurement decisions.”
In particular, record-keeping, conflicts of interest management, and reporting need to improve to meet the standards required when public organisations spend public money, the Office said.
“It is important that New Zealanders get the best possible outcomes from public money spent on procurement. Poor procurement practices are often the subject of comment by our Office and can result in waste and poor value for money. In turn, this can erode trust and confidence in the public sector and government.”
“A range of goods and services were purchased quickly by public organisations during the past three years, particularly in response to Covid-19. Purchasing goods and services at speed can create integrity risks.”
The Office said senior public sector leaders had important roles in ensuring improvements are made.
“Our integrity framework can support leaders in promoting a culture of integrity in their organisations.”
“Future emergencies are inevitable. Public organisations need to focus more on procurement when planning for emergencies.
“We recommend actions that all public organisations can take to ensure that emergency procurements are conducted with greater integrity, transparency, and accountability.”
Read the 8-page report Getting it right: Supporting integrity in emergency procurement here.