An independent review into the Tauranga City Council's procuring of external services in relation to the building consents process has found they failed to comply with their own policies.
The report focused on the council's procurement and probity processes in relation to Holmes Farsight, an external provider engaged to help the council process building consent applications since 2015.
The report is the result of a review by forensic accountants Beattie Varley, whom the council engaged in June following an earlier Independent Review by BDO.
It found the council did not put contracts through an open market process, despite their costs meeting the threshold required to do so.
Chief Executive Garry Poole has welcomed the report.
“We are pleased to have this report now completed and to find that, while there were breaches of our procurement processes, there is no evidence of inappropriate behaviour or these breaches being intentional.
“I would like to thank all those who assisted in the review, and particularly Holmes Farsight for their full cooperation. The report reinforces Holmes Farsight as a competent, reliable and skilled operator, who provided essential support to Council over two years.”
Garry says the quality of the work undertaken by Holmes Farsight was not at issue. However, the review was needed to understand why correct processes were not followed and to ensure ratepayers can have confidence in the council.
“The report suggests the breaches were due to people making assumptions that internal sign-off and checks had been done by others, when they hadn't.
“It also shows the council needed urgent support to ensure it could undertake its duties as a Building Consent Authority, and Holmes Farsight provided that gap at short notice.”
According to Beattie Varley's findings, a contributing factor was the rapid increase in building consent applications, particularly in large commercial-building applications, which the council did not have specialist staff to cover.
Garry says the council is disappointed it did not follow its own policies, but has already begun work on making improvements.
“We acknowledge that we need to do better but it is pleasing to know that there was no malice involved and hopefully we have addressed concerns that people had,” he says.
“Tauranga City Council is committed to high standards and we are working with the industry and our team to ensure these are achieved. Since the BDO report was released we have had started regular engagement with the building sector.
“This report adds weight to this course of action and provides valuable insights for us going forward.”
The full report can be found here.