After years of waiting, there’s little excitement to be found in a new report on the City of Revelstoke’s operational procurement.
The city has solid foundation for operational procurement but needs to continue its good practices by updating its policies, says the Auditor General for Local Government in a new report published Friday morning.
“Overall, we found that the City of Revelstoke met most of our expectations, had a solid foundation for operational procurement and that staff fully complied with the expectations provided to them in the city’s policies,” wrote AGLG Gordon Ruth. “To meet its operational procurement objectives more fully, Revelstoke will need to build on its existing good practices by updating its procurement and conflict of interest policies and undertaking additional monitoring and reporting relating to operational procurement and the achievement of value for money.”
The report, called Achieving Value for Money in Operational Procurement, looked at Revelstoke’s procurement practices from 2010 to 2012. The auditors went over 25 different procurements from that time period.
Operational procurement relates to the day-to-day operations of the city and doesn’t include capital spending. According to the report, it represents about a third of the city’s operational spending.
There’s no bombshells in the report. There’s no tales of government waste or corruption. The report goes over the city’s procurement policies and says they’re generally good and are followed by staff, but that there are gaps that need to be filled in.
“Effectively, what we found was the City of Revelstoke met most of our audited expectations,” said Ruth in an interview.
Mayor Mark McKee said he was disappointed in the lack of major findings.
“I see the purpose of these things of coming up with revelations that will help us manage and run the city better, more efficiently, more cost effective,” he said. “I guess it’s good its not there, but I’m always looking to do better.”
The report says the city lacks guidance on length of contracts, contract dispute resolution procedures, the use of sub-contractors, and contract monitoring or legal review of larger contracts.
It says purchasing policies should provide direction on how staff deal with vendors. It says the city should debrief unsuccessful bidders and assess vendor performance. It also says the city should keep its scoring sheets for competitive bidding processes — something it did not do during the audit period.
The report says the city needs to improve its conflict of interest policies. Staff aren’t required to periodically review conflict regulations and there’s no requirement for vendors to disclose any conflicts. There’s also no whistleblower protection for staff who know their colleagues are in conflict.
The report also knocks the city for not monitoring and tracking the performance of its operational procurement. It says the city needs to do more performance monitoring and more reporting on procurement results to council.
Revelstoke was among the first communities to be chosen to be audited by the AGLG when the office was created in 2012. The report was delayed due to disarray in the Office of the AGLG, and the original AGLG, Basia Ruta, was fired last year after only producing three reports in two years. Since then, the office has produced about one report per month.
Ruth says the recommendations are still relevant and valuable, despite the fact the field work for the audit was done two to three years ago. Since then, the city has seen an almost entirely new mayor and council elected and has replaced its chief administrator and city planner.
Ruth said his office was in touch with city staff over the past few months as it prepared the report.
“The recommendations around improvements to policy and reporting are still of value today and will still assist the city in continuing to do a better job at what they do,” he said.
McKee said many of the recommendations have already been implemented over the past few years.
“I think if the report was updated today, you would see an even better report on the city’s procurement policies,” he said. “I’m confident changes have been made as a matter of regularly doing business and I don’t have any concerns in that regard.”
A management response says the city has an ongoing program to review and update its policies and will incorporate the auditor’s recommendations as it does so. The city also intends to look best practices for monitoring performance and will increase reporting on procurement results to council.
When asked if this report could lead to a core review, McKee said that would be up to council.
“It’s a big deal, it’s expensive, it takes a lot of time,” he said. “I guess if council thinks there are issues that should be looked at, then this may be one of the ways to do that.”