Leaked NSWMA Document: Procurement Irregularities Continued for Months

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NB: The Internal Audit is at the End of this STORY for reading.

Nationwide News has obtained documents showing that procurement irregularities continued at the National Solid Waste Management Authority, NSWMA, several months after the completion of an internal audit in April 2014.

In the leaked documents, the Executive Director, Jennifer Edwards, was forced to warn one of her Regional Operations Managers, in October 2014, to desist from continuing to breach procurement procedures.

The manager was stationed at Metropolitan Parks and Markets Regional Office where the damning internal audit had identified numerous procurement irregularities.

Ms Edwards’ emailed warning was made six months after an internal audit had found several breaches in procurement procedures and made several recommendations to address them.

Nationwide News has obtained a copy of the leaked e-mail correspondence from the NSWMA’s Executive Director Jennifer Edwards to the MPM’s Regional Operating Manager, Adrian Grant.

The Regional Administrator for MPM, Sharon Sutherland, the Finance Director, Michael Walters, and the Director of Operations, Percival Stewart, were copied on the e-mail.

The correspondence reads; “Mr. Grant, I have noticed that a pattern has been emerging whereby purchase orders for supplementary contractors are being prepared and submitted in a fragmented manner. Almost every day for the past week I have been signing purchase orders for this group and in like manner I have been either signing cheques or uploading payments.”

The e-mail continues…”This is not only time consuming and distracting, but limits the ability to monitor expenditure on a fortnightly basis on supplementary units.”

Ms. Edwards goes on to remind Mr. Grant, that purchase orders are to be prepared prior to the services being provided.

She also reminds him that purchase orders are NOT to be prepared at the time of payment of invoices and the demanded that the practice be stopped immediately.

In the E-mail, Ms. Edwards sates that she had to write to the MPM regional office on several occasions regarding the submission of bills for payment.

She argued that the continued submission of documents for payment on the due date and sometimes very late on the due date or after the due date, increases the potential for errors and the opportunity for illegal acts.

Ms. Edwards reminds those to whom the e-mail was sent, that bills must be submitted to the NSWMA Finance Department at least two clear days prior to the due date for payment.

We tried to reach Ms Edwards and Mr Grant to ask whether the breaches stopped and whether anyone was sanctioned.

Despite several attempts, we couldn’t get through to them.

And, there appears to have been further questionable procurement practices months after the April 2014 internal audit.

The minutes of the NSWMA’s Procurement Committee Meeting held Wednesday September 24, 2014, shows that concerns were raised by the agency’s Corporate Services Director, Dr. Beverly Shirley, over increases granted to supplementary fleet contractors.

Dr Shirley raised the concerns after the Procurement Officer, Ms Sheena Henry, informed the meeting that the rate paid to supplementary fleet contractors had been increased.

The increases were related to payments made to contractors under the Emergency Cleanup Programme in 2014.

The proposed increase was from 4-thousand dollars per hour to 9-thousand dollars per hour for private owners of trucks contracted to assist in the programme.

During the meeting Dr. Shirley noted that the MPM was already running a deficit, and that the increase would worsen the situation.

She also raised concerns as to whether the appropriate protocols were followed, noting that no documentation had been presented to verify that approval was granted, nor to show that the increase was approved by the Board.

In the same meeting, Dr. Shirley also noted that there was sometimes a conflict with the Finance Director, Mr. Michael Walters, also being the Chairman of the Procurement Committee.

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