Auditor general flags interference by government officials in Mount Carmel Hospital recruitment

Irregular engagements, contractual design flaws and a weak contract management function, dilute value for money in Mount Carmel Hospital’s contract for outsourced clerical services

The NAO said the hospital was not getting good value for its money in outsourcing its clerical services
The NAO said the hospital was not getting good value for its money in outsourcing its clerical services

An investigation by the National Audit Office has found a number of design flaws in a contract awarded by Mount Carmel Hospital (MCH) for the outsourcing of clerical services. The investigation also found that government officials were often directly involved in sourcing and referring individuals to the service provider. 

The audit primarily focused on the contract documents governing the outsourced services and the manner in which it is being utilised and managed by the hospital.

According to the NAO’s findings, the service was being acquired through a one year negotiated procedure, because a tender had not been awarded before the contract’s expiry in July 2018.

“This review also showed that a number of design flaws prevailed in this contract, particularly the lack of any performance measurement mechanisms,” read an NAO statement.

“Additionally, ownership of the contract was no assigned to a key responsible official within MCH, which put the hospital in a disadvantageous position when it came to monitoring and ensuring the holistic implementation of the clerical contract.“  

The NAO observed that though the contract had originally called for the deployment of approximately 60 full-time equivalents, more than double – 134 – were deployed as at September 2018.

The NAO however said it found that 47 of these outsourced personnel, though engaged through a contract for clerical services, had been deployed to carry out non-clerical responsibilities, such as maintenance and security duties.

“This audit has also shown that there have been instances in which government officials were directly involved in sourcing and referring individuals to the service provider so that they may be engaged and deployed at MCH under this contract,” the NAO said.

Moreover, the NAO noted that, “while personnel engaged through this contract and deployed to work as clerks are delivering an acceptable level of quality in their work, some of those deployed to carry out non-clerical duties are not meeting the expected level of service. This concern is accentuated by MCH’s management’s assertion that it was found extremely difficult to dismiss a number of non-performers given that it itself had referred them for engagement to the service provider”.

It said that while the exercise was primarily focused on the contract for clerical service, the NAO had made a number of observations about the contract for cleaning services, which it transpires was procured through a call for quotations “even though it significantly exceeded the financial threshold for this method of procurement”.

Furthermore, it said that no formal documentation contract was in place, a number of deployed personnel were carrying out tasks unrelated to cleaning duties and the output of the outsourced personnel as well as the quality of the cleaning products being used at MCH were questionable.

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