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Thursday, June 01, 2006

NSW Auditor General adds voice to call for more transparent government contracts

The NSW Auditor General’s report on the Cross City Tunnel was released yesterday and gets wide coverage in today’s papers, particularly the RTA requirement for an upfront fee, and the weight attached to this factor in determining the winning bid.

The report (3.6) also looks at transparency issues particularly around the significant amendment to the contract to add $38 million new work and allow a compensating increase to the toll. The Auditor General comments that the renegotiation took place after the protective structures (probity oversight and evaluation and review panels) had been dismantled. The amendments were not made public until forced by a Parliamentary Committee. The report says that there is still insufficient publicly available information to make sense of what was negotiated.

The Auditor General recommends that contract amendments should receive the same degree of scrutiny as original contracts, and should be publicly available.

Treasury’s response says that it is currently working on revised guidelines for disclosure of contracts which will address contract variations.

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