Get the facts before talking, contractor general tells Douglas

Get the facts before talking, contractor general tells Douglas

Saturday, July 11, 2015

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CONTRACTOR General Dirk Harrison has responded to what he said were "inaccurate statements and representations" made by Easton Douglas in relation to the Office of the Contractor General's (OCG's) 2013 report tabled in Parliament, which included the review of a complaint regarding a contract awarded to Douglas's company by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC).


Douglas, in an article published in last week's Sunday newspapers, had said that Harrison "made certain statements, without the provision of any supporting evidence, that under the guise of a 'fabricated consultancy' and friendship, Easton Douglas and Company was awarded a contract for which the organisation was paid an 'enormous sum' compared to three other valuators who had prepared valuation reports".


Douglas also said that the contractor general had reported that the contract was issued under the category of Legal Services, and went on to advise that Easton Douglas and Company is not an organisation qualified to practise law, and therefore the procedures contained in the Government handbook for the procurement of services was breached.


"There was no evidence that the contract sought legal services from Easton Douglas and Company," Douglas wrote. "The contract between Easton Douglas and Company and the UDC was for the provision of consultancy services, bearing in mind relevant qualification of over 60 years of experience, a handful of professional peers and limited availability of other similar competent persons."


After setting out the reasons for the contract being awarded to his company, Douglas accused Harrison of being "irresponsible" and "insensitive" by mention of the word 'friendship', and cautioned him to "exercise care to avoid submitting reports aimed at titillating public opinion".


But in his response, Harrison said: "It is indeed unfortunate that in an attempt to chastise the OCG, Mr Douglas has attributed certain words and particulars of the complaint as a finding and/or pronouncement made by this office. In point of fact, words and phrases such as "...fabricated consultancy" and "...enormous sum", as stated in the referenced media articles, are words used by the complainant."


He added: "The aforementioned statement is, therefore, not a finding, conclusion and/or statement of the OCG. It is therefore untrue to suggest that these are the words and/or statements of the OCG."


"Importantly, the very section of the 2013 Annual Report in which the complaint and the OCG's findings are recorded is prefaced by the following: 'The following are excerpts from the review of complaints/matters which have been concluded which were within the OCG's remit and not forwarded to an external agency.'


"This matter, and the tenor of the newspaper articles attributed to Mr Easton Douglas warrant only a careful reading of the excerpt which is contained on pages 97-99 of the OCG's 2013 Annual Report."


To reinforce his point, Harrison reproduced the complaint verbatim, and said that the OCG's review of the complaint dealt with the facts of the case and dealt with the substantive issues related to the application of the then applicable Handbook of Public Sector Procurement Procedures.


"It is based upon the written disclosures of the Urban Development Corporation that the OCG was able to arrive at a determination that the referenced contract did not fit within the exemption category of 'legal services' as contemplated by the 2008 Handbook of Public Sector Procurement Procedures," Harrison said.


"It must be noted that the aforementioned complaint was received by the OCG on July 2, 2010 and the review of same was finalised and submitted to the Urban Development Corporation, under cover of letter dated November 21, 2013 addressed to Mr Desmond Malcolm, general manager. It is for this reason that the particular complaint is recorded in the 2013 Annual Report, as it is an operational activity which was completed during the referenced reporting period," Harrison added.


"The OCG trusts that the foregoing will correct any inaccuracies and/or concerns which may have arisen in the public sphere.


"Having regard to the foregoing, we wish to also caution Mr Douglas that, in the future, he first apprises himself of the actual facts, prior to making public assertions and/or pronouncements so as to avoid any possible and unwarranted confusion, embarrassment or further action," the contractor general said.


"In the interest of public transparency, and acting in pursuance of the special powers that are reserved to a Contractor General by Section 28 of the Contractor-General Act, the OCG's 2013 Annual Report was tabled in the Houses of Parliament and thereafter published on the OCG's website and is available at URL: http://www.ocg.gov.jm," Harrison said.



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