MHMS bid waiver process for NRH isolation ward not effectively managed: OAG Report


THE bid waiver process (procurement in a state of emergency) of the isolation ward at the National Referral Hospital was not effectively managed by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

That is according to the audit report on procurement relating to COVID-19 Disaster relief fund by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) released yesterday by the Office of the Auditor General.

The report says there are cases that the health ministry was unable to provide required documentation. For instance, 16 contracts were issued for the refurbishment of the isolation ward at the National Referral Hospital in March 2020.The certificates of completion of this work was issued on April 10, 2020.The purchase requisition or these procurements was signed in June 16, 2020 as bid waiver.

“If required authorizations and approvals are not obtained before work has been done or goods have been accepted, the government has no choice but to pay the vendor, so applying the internal controls at that point does not have any meaning,” the report said.

It adds, Ministry of health stated that most of the documentation was completed at a later date due to activities were requested to be completed in a given time frame to and during the auditing process the OAG picked out that internal controls do not just apply when is convenient.

“The appropriate response to the urgent situation was to put more effort and, if necessary, resources into completing controls activities in the correct order, not to discard them until after the procurement was complete,” the report stated.

The report also spelt out that in the case of the isolation ward refurbishment, the bid Waiver for 15 procurements totaling SBD2.4 million was approved by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Pauline McNeil even though this authority rests with the Central Tender Board, under the the Ministry of Finance & Treasury (MoFT) and chaired by McKinnie Dentana who is also the Permanent Secretary of MoFT.

“The failure to implement controls prior to undertaking procurement is a significant breakdown of internal control and the Ministry should take steps to ensure that it does not happen again,” the report stated.

Ministry of Health and Medical services comments inside the report stated that the ministry has highlighted that the context of this occurrence, the pandemic, their roles, resources allocations or mobilisation legislative guidelines in protecting the country is limited, challenging and with many gaps.

“Since this is the first in the Solomon Islands history, the ministry acknowledges their resort to moblising resources through available or existing procurement guidelines as per the Procurement & Contract Administration Manual 2013 (PCAM) for Bid Waiver request,” Ministry of health stated.

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