Tender rules tighten to ban gifts to staff

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Contract managers at Mornington Peninsula Shire have been banned from accepting “gifts, benefits or hospitality” from companies or individuals supplying the tens of millions of dollars in goods or services bought each year by the shire.

The shire has tightened up the rules to avoid conflicts of interest between staff and suppliers following internal audits and receipt of a probity report of its buying and contract procedures.

Gifts that have been offered and declined must be recorded in the staff gift register.

Staff and advisors directly involved with any tender evaluation panel will need to declare “any relationships or connections they currently have, or previously had, to tenders or their employees”.

Declarations in the Related and Conflict of Interest Register would be reviewed by “procurement” and assessed in consultation with “probity” officers.

A report to council’s Tuesday 23 October meeting by strategic procurement manager Gail Mifsud stated that the signed declaration “is to mitigate the person determining the status of their own interest”.

If a conflict of interest is found the staff member concerned must be taken off the tender evaluation panel and have no further access to tender information.

A member of the shire’s “executive team” could allow the staff member to remain in the panel “if the interest is considered minor or unlikely to influence the evaluation outcome”.

The gifts register – available to the public by appointment – lists an “exclusive photographic session voucher” valued at $600 as being declined by a contracts procurement coordinator. A Mornington car sales company made the offer.

The shire’s contract auditing and surveillance officer also declined an identical offer.

However, two “lunch” meetings valued at $20 and $25 with Procurement Australia were accepted while an invitation to Derby Day was declined.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 30 October 2018

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