ATTORNEY Dirk Harrison was yesterday sworn in as the country's fifth contractor general by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.
Addressing the swearing-in ceremony at King's House, Sir Patrick commended Harrison on accepting the charge to serve his country in a capacity that is often challenging.
The governor general said that much is required of the new contractor general, pointing out that Jamaicans expect his office to ensure that the public sector contractual arrangements are transparent, above board and free from every hint of corruption.
"Jamaicans expect that through the faithful discharge of the mandate of this office, our country can rely on the public sector's accountability, integrity and efficiency in the management of our national resources," said Sir Patrick.
Citing a 2011 Don Anderson Market Services survey, which revealed that the Office of the Contractor General was ranked as earning the highest level of public satisfaction in the fight against corruption in the country, the governor general reminded Harrison Jamaica would be looking to his office to ensure that corruption is reduced, or totally eliminated, thus enhancing the country's international profile.
"Our nation anticipates the day when Transparency International will positively report on our fight to free our country from corruption... I charge you, therefore, to inspire and lead your team effectively, so that the Office of the Contractor General will achieve its mission and deliver the results for which it was established," he said.
Prior to his appointment, which becomes effective on March 1, Harrison served as deputy director of public prosecutions. He succeeds Greg Christie, whose tenure ended on December 1, 2012. Craig Beresford has been acting as contractor general since that time.
A graduate of the Norman Manley Law School, Harrison has more than 12 years experience as a prosecutor on a wide range of criminal matters in Jamaica's courts, including the Court of Appeal. In his previous post, he served as head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, as well as of the Coroner's Unit and the Environmental Law Unit.
Harrison's expertise has been recognised internationally. He participated in the United Nations review of Jamaica's anti-corruption laws and practices, and is a member of a UN-selected team for evaluation and review of countries' implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption. He has also represented Jamaica at several international conferences against corruption.
Established as an independent commission in 1983, the Office of the Contractor General is responsible for the monitoring and investigation of government contracts, licences and permits to ensure that they are awarded impartially and on merit.