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Contracts not gazetted as civil servants ’on vacation’

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The Venetian yacht welcomed celebrity social-media influencers on board during Cup Match 2018 as part of a marketing campaign called #DreamWeekend (Photograph from Robbie's Graphic Designs on Instagram)

A pair of contracts worth more than $70,000 each given to an American firm to organise a string of Cup Match parties were not made public - because civil servants were on holiday.

The contracts, for $74,100 and $70,400, were awarded to Mosaic Sales Solutions, of Irving, Texas, and should have been published in the Official Gazette under public access to information legislation.

But a Government spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette this week: “Owing to key technical officers on vacation at the material time in the summer of 2018, they were not gazetted.

“This unusual oversight will be remedied shortly.”

The notices were published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday (October 14, 2020) - more than two years after the Dream Weekend event, designed to attract more African American tourists to the island - after The Royal Gazette flagged up their absence.

The spokeswoman said: “The Royal Gazette’s fastidious review of the Official Gazette in support of their reporting which identified this oversight is greatly appreciated.”

The Government used leftover cash from the 2017 America’s Cup to pay Mosaic for organising the Cup Match parties for social-media “celebrities”, as revealed in The Royal Gazette earlier this month.

The usual tender process was waived in favour of three “sole source” contracts between Mosaic and the former Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism.

The government spokeswoman said: “The contracts for Mosaic were the subject of three agreements for separate deliverables.

“Two of those agreements should have been gazetted in keeping with the requirements of the Pati Act to publish the award of contracts over $50,000 on a regular basis.”

The third contract with Mosaic, understood to have been for $34,900, did not need to be gazetted.

The Dream Weekend was attended by “celebrity influencers” from the United States and included a party at Horseshoe Beach, a “VIP lounge” at Somerset Cricket Club, a “curated and exclusive tour” of the island, a trip onboard the Venetian luxury yacht, and a cocktail reception and dinner with David Burt, the Premier, and guests.

The influencers generated social-media posts about their activities with the hashtags #CupMatch2018 and #DreamBermuda.

The Government said its records showed it paid a total of $179,400 to Mosaic for the Dream Weekend.

Mosaic contracted and paid island suppliers and services that worked on the event.

But The Royal Gazette has seen documents that suggest other Bermudian companies were paid direct by the Government and that the real cost to the taxpayer for the weekend was higher.

The Government said last month it needed more time to provide the total cost, because the former Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism had been restructured twice since the Dream Weekend.

The final amount has not been released, despite requests.

A Government spokeswoman said this week: “The Venetian - Little Venice Catering - was paid $3,189, which represented a significant discount on the provision of this premium experience.

“This is consistent with the approach taken by local vendors who supported this initiative.

“All of this was done in support of a key initiative to grow the reach of Cup Match and a marketing effort that would promote the weekend to a wider segment of tourists.”

Mr Burt said last month the 2018 marketing campaign represented “extremely good value for money” and resulted in 23.17 million impressions across Twitter and Instagram, with the hashtag #DreamBermuda reaching more than 6.7 million potential travellers.

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Published October 16, 2020 at 7:00 am (Updated October 16, 2020 at 2:32 am)

Contracts not gazetted as civil servants ’on vacation’

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