Alberta government managers found guilty of manipulating contracts

Alberta's Public Interest Commissioner has found three government managers rigged the awarding of contracts last fall.

Investigation found 'gross mismanagement of public funds' with contracts worth more than $100K each

Public Interest Commissioner Peter Hourihan is concerned that that false documents were prepared in an attempt to cover up the issue. (CBC)

Disciplinary action will be taken against three government managers found by Alberta's public interest commissioner to have rigged the awarding of contracts last fall.

In eight different instances, managers from Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures and Innovation and Advanced Education doctored bids to favour a preferred candidate in IT contracts, the commissioner ruled in a report released Thursday. 

"This type of action is unacceptable," Service Alberta minister Deron Bilous said. "It's inexcusable and we don't intend to sit by and do nothing about it."

Bilous confirmed disciplinary action is underway. But he refused to elaborate further on who the managers were and what disciplinary measures will be taken. He also would not comment on whether police should be involved. 

But Bilous decried the findings as evidence of the former Progressive Conservative government's culture of entitlement. 

"We are here to work for Albertans and this culture of entitlement needs to end," he said. 

The contracts were worth more than $100,000 each. Seven were with Innovation and Advanced Education, one was with Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures.  

The wrongdoing occurred between October and December 2014.

A whistleblower tipped off the commissioner to look into the bids.

Service Alberta Minister Deron Bilous said his government is taking action to ensure this never happens again. (CBC)
The investigation found the managers directed or counselled others to commit a wrongdoing.

They were also found to have manipulated competition scores to elevate the standing of preferred candidates. 

Public Interest Commissioner Peter Hourihan said some employees produced false documents in an attempt to cover up the issue. 

"It's concerning that somebody would do that," he said.  "It presents us with a distinct perspective that it was done with intention."

Bilous said there are plans to introduce a procurement accountability framework across government and set up an independent audit process to ensure employees are following best practices. 

The contracts expire annually so they will soon be put out to tender, he said. 

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