UTech probe

OCG faces hos­til­ity dur­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion at nat’l univer­sity

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - An­dré Poyser Staff Re­porter

THE OF­FICE of the Con­trac­tor Gen­eral (OCG) is cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (UTech) for what may be pos­si­ble pro­cure­ment breaches. An of­fi­cer in the pro­cure­ment de­part­ment at the univer­sity con­firmed that the probe has been on­go­ing since the start of the year, but de­clined to pro­vide de­tails. Another source who spoke with The Gleaner said the con­trac­tor gen­eral and his team have faced hos­til­ity from per­sons tar­geted in the probe and have had to visit the in­sti­tu­tion un­der the pro­tec­tion of a strong se­cu­rity pres­ence.

Con­trac­tor Gen­eral Dirk Har­ri­son has, how­ever, de­clined to com­ment on the mat­ter.

UTech’s act­ing Pres­i­dent Pro­fes­sor Colin Gyles told The Gleaner that, to the best of his knowl­edge, the OCG’s probe has been on­go­ing since 2013.

“What I got from the con­trac­tor gen­eral is that at var­i­ous points in the probe they have been head­ing to­wards a

con­clu­sion, but have had to in­clude other el­e­ments that de­lay com­ing to a con­clu­sion be­cause they are still look­ing into mat­ters,” he said.

Gyles fur­ther con­firmed that he has had to rep­ri­mand staff in the pro­cure­ment de­part­ment for hos­tile be­hav­iour to­wards the con­trac­tor gen­eral.

The Gleaner has since learnt that the US Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment (USAID) has pulled fund­ing from the FIWI Ja­maica UTech project be­cause of the pro­cure­ment is­sues at the univer­sity.

Based on in­for­ma­tion shared with The Gleaner, from sources at the univer­sity, it ap­pears that the pro­cure­ment is­sues at UTech, which were high­lighted in the in­ves­tiga­tive report pro­duced by the 2013 UTech Spe­cial Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee (SAC), have not been ad­dressed some three years af­ter the report was re­leased and the ouster of then Pres­i­dent Errol Mor­ri­son.

The 2013 SAC report high­lighted nine pro­cure­ment is­sues, in­clu­sive of con­cerns about a 2013 ten­der for se­cu­rity ser­vices at the univer­sity, de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion of the pro­cure­ment func­tion, and the above-mar­ket com­pen­sa­tion of staff in the pro­cure­ment de­part­ment.

The chief busi­ness and fi­nance of­fi­cer, who served up to the time of the estab­lish­ment of the SAC in 2013, in his sub­mis­sion to the com­mit­tee, had said that the pro­cure­ment prac­tices of the univer­sity were of grave con­cern.

“The univer­sity is op­er­at­ing its own sys­tem of pro­cure­ment out­side of the Govern­ment’s guide­lines. This sys­tem is said to be more bu­reau­cratic than the Govern­ment’s pro­cure­ment hand­book, and so is re­spon­si­ble for the de­lays which the univer­sity is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing,” a find­ing of the SAC report reads.

The report had fur­ther noted that none of the rec­om­men­da­tions, which were made fol­low­ing a re­view of the pro­cure­ment de­part­ment, were im­ple­mented.

“The univer­sity un­der­took a re­view of its pro­cure­ment func­tion ... . This re­view was fur­ther re­viewed by the Ja­maica So­cial In­vest­ment Fund (JSIF) un­der a paid con­tract. How­ever, to date, none of the rec­om­men­da­tions have been im­ple­mented. This is of some con­cern to the com­mit­tee, as we are un­aware of JSIF’s ex­per­tise in this re­gard and why the free ser­vice avail­able from the Min­istry of Fi­nance was not utilised,” another find­ing from the 2013 report said.


Young­sters are caught on cam­era do­ing the pop­u­lar LOL dance dur­ing the half­time in­ter­val at a Premier League match held at the An­thony Spauld­ing Sports Com­plex in St An­drew.

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