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Monitoring Findings of the Sierra Leone Coalition for Budget and Procurement Transparency in the Education Sector


Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

August21, 2012

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONALSierra Leone

20, Dundas Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa P.O Box 1312

Press Release

Monitoring Findings of the Sierra Leone Coalition for Budget and Procurement Transparency in the Education Sector

“The Sierra Leone Coalition for Budget and Procurement Transparency in the Education Sector” supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) through its monitoring exercises had so far made the following findings.

1. There are established procurement committees with the required membership in all the entities monitored

2. Most of the procurement units monitored were able to produce documentary evidence of procurement committee meetings, bid documents, etc.

3. All the bid openings were done in public

4. Most of the procurement committees work independently without administrative or  political influence

5. Lack of adequate equipment like computers, printers in all the Procurement Units monitored. This will affect there efficiency of the unit and proper storage of records

6. In some entities, there is semblance of administrative/ political interference in public procurement processes. This will undermine the independence of the Unit

7. In all the entities monitored, there is inadequate number of procurement professionals to effectively handle procurement processes especially in big councils like the Freetown City Council. This is one of the factors responsible for flouting procurement regulations.

8. There is in most cases the absence of technical experts in the preparation of bids and the award of contracts. This can lead to the quotation of wrong specifications of goods, works and services required.

9. In most of the councils monitored, there is no documentary evidence of the 5% retention fee for every contract awarded especially works. This makes it  difficult to track contractors who abandon their contracts before completion

10. There is insufficient teaching and learning materials like text books in most of the schools monitored

11. There is delay, and sometimes non-payment of the 5% retention fees

12. In most of the entities monitored contract details including BOQs are not publicly displayed. This makes monitoring of contract performance very difficult

For more information or clarification please contact Transparency International Secretariat 20 Dundas Street Freetown or call Mr. Edward B. Koroma (Project Coordinator) on the following mobile telephone numbers 076-407979/033-445884/077-173936.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

South Africa: Public Protector Must Investigate


AllAfrica.com

July 15th, 2012

PRESS RELEASE

According to reports today, the ANC‘s former parliamentary Chief Whip signed a “blank cheque” contract with EduSolutions, the company at the centre of the Limpopo textbooks crisis, to do business with the ANC in Parliament.

This is the latest in a series of reports which raise serious questions about the links between EduSolutions and the ANC and whether it was the company’s political connections that led to it receiving a number of state contracts.

I will be writing to the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, to request that the relationship between the ANC and EduSolutions is subjected to a full investigation.

Numerous links have been reported to exist between EduSolutions and the ANC.

These include:

African Access Holdings, the holding company of EduSolutions, is a key donor to Zuma’s RDP Education Trust

EduSolutions founder and CEO Shaun Battlemann has links to President Zuma as a “champion” of his education trust, Mr Battleman also reportedly has links to Professor John Volmink, a former top advisor to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, and former ANC Chief Whip Mbulelo Goniwe, who was reportedly responsible for signing off on EduSolutions’ “blank cheque” contract to do business with the ANC in Parliament.

Brand Talk, a fellow subsidiary of African Access Holdings, was one of the companies implicated in the reported irregular awarding of communications tenders during the tenure of former ANC Premier of the Western Cape, Ebrahim Rasool.

Numerous concerns have been raised about the awarding of the Limpopo textbook contract to EduSolutions, and whether the proper processes were circumvented because of the company’s reported political links.

Problems with the awarding of the tender include:

Allegations that 22 of the 23 tender bids that were received for the Limpopo textbooks deal were disqualified- without any explanation. This left EduSolutions as the sole remaining bidder

A legal opinion, commissioned by the Department of Basic Education and provided to the State on 17 January 2012, stated that complaints of irregularities regarding the awarding of the Limpopo textbooks tender were swept under the carpet, and that it would be “irresponsible for the National Government to continue to give effect to the contract without a proper investigation of the complaints”. However, the opinion was ignored.

The same legal opinion declared that the contract with EduSolutions is “probably invalid” for not complying with Section 217 of the Constitution, the Public Finance Management Act and the Treasury. However, the former Limpopo education administrator, Anis Karodia, was actively obstructed from implementing the legal opinion’s recommendations.

There are still too many unanswered questions regarding the awarding of the EduSolutions tender, and the company’s reported political links.

The Public Protector must investigate whether it is political patronage, rather than the needs of our learners, that dictated the awarding of this tender.

Annette Lovemore, Shadow Minister of Basic Education


World Bank Bars Two Oxford University Press Subsidiaries From Contracts


Ventures

By Busayo

July 4th, 2012

VENTURES AFRICA – In order to enforce corporate integrity, two wholly-owned subsidiaries of Oxford University Press (OUP), Oxford University Press East Africa Limited (OUPEA) and Oxford University Press Tanzania Limited (OUPT), have been blacklisted from participating in World Bank projects and other agency projects which have an agreement with the World Bank like the African Development Bank.

In their place, Oxford’s archrivals Kenya Literature Bureau (KLB), Longhorn Kenya and state owned Jomo Kenyatta Foundation (JKF) are expected to be the major beneficiaries of the three-year ban.

According to the World Bank, the Kenyan and Tanzanian subsidiaries were blacklisted for irregular payments to government officials for two contracts to supply text books under programmes funded by the Bretton Woods institution.

Oxford East Africa was penalised and delisted by the World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) from the World Bank’s multi-billion shilling project for three years after it was linked in a bribery scandal with top government officials.

The publishing house parent company, Oxford University Press (OUP), was billed Sh292 million ($3.5 million) as part of the settlement.

Oxford’s debarment comes one year after donors pulled out of the $80 million (Sh6.7 billion) Kenya Education Sector Support Programme (KESSP) citing rampant fraud involving senior officials at the Ministry of Education.

The bribery scandal investigation that culminated in a penalties and sanctions started in May last year and closed early this year after establishing that the subsidiaries bribed government officials directly and through agents to win tenders and publishing contracts for textbooks.

Investigators found that Oxford East Africa was involved in widespread bribery that spanned five countries including Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda.

“This debarment is testimony to the bank’s continued commitment to protecting the integrity of its projects,” said Leonard McCarthy, the World Bank Integrity vice-president.

“OUP’s acknowledgment of misconduct and the thoroughness of its investigation is evidence of how companies can address issues of fraud and corruption and change their corporate practices to foster integrity in the development business,” he added.

The World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) is responsible for preventing, deterring and investigating allegations of fraud, collusion and corruption in World Bank projects, capitalizing on the experience of a multilingual and highly specialized team of investigators and forensic accountants.

The Oxford University Press is to pay the World Bank $500,000 (Sh42 million) for flouting agreed procurement rules and additional £1.9 million (Sh250 million) to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for the same offences.
Oxford University Press voluntarily reported the bribery scandal to the World Bank and SFO on suspicion of the underhand dealings at its regional subsidiaries.

“We do not tolerate such behaviour,” said Nigel Portwood, Oxford’s chief executive adding that the company was committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards.

Oxford’s debarment follows a similar one on its rival Macmillan which was banned from bidding for world-bank funded contract till 2014 for bribery linked to an education project in Sudan. Macmillan was asked to pay Sh1.5 billion penalty to SFO after investigations revealed that it had bribed government officials in pursuit of public and World Bank-funded contracts in Africa.

In July last year, Macmillan paid a Sh1.5 billion ($18 million) penalty to SFO after investigations revealed that it had bribed government officials in pursuit of public and World Bank-funded contracts in Africa.

The publishing house was found to irregularly won tenders for the supply of text books to public schools in Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia between 2002 and 2009.

The publisher remains banned from bidding for World Bank–funded contracts up to mid-2014. After the scandal, Macmillan sold its Kenyan and Ugandan subsidiaries to veteran publisher David Muita for Sh300 million ($3.6 million).

Since 1970, foreign publishers like Thomas Nelson, Heinemann, and Longman have exited the Kenyan publishing market thereby creating more room for local publishers.

Nigeria: Jonathan orders screening of contractors


Vanguard

By Rotimi Ajayi

October 20, 2011

In a bid to reduce corruption and non-performing contracts in the Federal Civil Service, President Goodluck Jonathan  has ordered comprehensive screening of contractors and service providers for the Federal Government.

The directive was said to have been issued following a review meeting with some members of the National Economic Management Team after the recent retreat with members of the Organized Private Sectors where it was agreed that there was need to put sanity to awards of Federal Government contracts and jobs.

An indication towards the implementation of the Presidential directive was contained in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

The statement issued by the Director General of the Bureau, Emeka Ezeh, pointed out that arrangements had been concluded to commence registration, categorisation and classification of all Federal Government contractors, consultants and service providers.

The Director-General stated that the project would revolutionise government procurement process and encourage more transparency and efficiency in the procurement process.

According to him, the objective of the database is to register, classify and categorize contractors, consultants and service providers as a platform of verification by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), other entities, and interested organisations. It will also ensure that contractors, consultants and service providers of equal competencies and capabilities bid for specific jobs.

He added that the project would create an electronic interface with stakeholders and deepen the capacities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and their leaderships to attain full compliance with the provisions of the Act in order to positively transform the economy of Nigeria.

He said, “the usefulness of the Act in Government’s obvious responsibilities, particularly in implementing strategic and sustainable plans to develop infrastructural facilities cannot be overemphasized. This is not just to fulfil a basis responsibility of government but also in order to attain the proposed Vision 20:2020.

“The benefits of the procurement reform process importantly correlate with the present administration’s transformation agenda.  This agenda, as articulated by government seeks to vigorously implement the initiatives or programmes that will enhance the Administration’s strategic plans for Economic Growth.

“The ultimate objective of the Bureau is to ensure that all Federal procurements are strictly done in compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, and that all ongoing projects are in line with sectoral targets and priorities. It is when viable ongoing projects are adequately funded, completed and commissioned that the populace will be the better for it.”

School book procurement in SA needs stronger controls


Open book
Image via Wikipedia

Supply Management Daily

July 30,  2011 | Adam Leach

A study, conducted by NGO Transparency International (TI) found a lack of “appropriate mechanisms” to regulate the relationships between schools and vendors in the country has created a corruption risk.

Letshego Mokeki, national programme coordinator for Transparency and Integrity in Service Delivery in Africa – a TI scheme in South Africa, said in a statement: “The government needs to strengthen governance controls both at the provincial and school level and ensure that education budgets are used correctly. [It] has a duty to provide quality education for the next generation of South Africans, which is why it must take immediate steps to fight corruption.” Read more.

Report: Lessons Learned: Primary Education in Cameroon and South Africa

Strange bedfellows: Minneapolis Public Schools pay critic to do PR (U.S)


Map of USA with Minnesota highlighted
Image via Wikipedia

TC DailyPlanet

July 10th, 2011

By Sheila Reagan

When the Minneapolis Public Schools awarded a no-bid, $15,000 contract to Don Allen, a vitriolic and frequent critic of the Minneapolis Public Schools, lots of people were shocked. While this investigation began with the Don Allen contract, the bigger issue is how the MPS contract system works. How does MPS decide where public money should be spent? How does it choose the best contractor for the job? How do individuals and organizations in the community find out about contract opportunities? Who makes the contract decisions for MPS? How much information and oversight does the Board of Education have? Read more.

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