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OBA slams Government for breach of tendering rules

Calling for answers: Scott Pearman, of the One Bermuda Alliance (File photograph)

The One Bermuda Alliance has condemned the Government for going into competition with private firms and flouting procurement rules in the process.

Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, spoke out after a judge ruled last week that an online shopping and shipping service set up by the Government in partnership with a New Jersey-based courier company was unlawful.

MyBermudaPost was unveiled in October 2021. At the time, Wayne Furbert, then the Minister for the Cabinet Office, acknowledged that the contract was not put out to tender.

Defending that decision, he said: “Why not go somewhere else?”

But one island courier, Mailboxes Unlimited, launched a legal challenge, claiming that the Government should have issued a request for proposal to local companies before signing a behind-closed-doors deal with the New Jersey firm.

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed.

In a ruling, Puisne Judge Larry Mussenden also ordered that the Government must provide details about its deal with its US partner — Access USA Shipping LLC — before a decision could be made on quashing the contract.

In response to a series of questions The Royal Gazette addressed to Vance Campbell, the Minister of Tourism and the Cabinet Office, a government spokeswoman said: “The minister and the Bermuda Post Office acknowledge the recent court ruling.

“The minister has advised that the decision is being carefully reviewed, and any next steps will be considered following a full assessment of the judgment."

Last night, Mr Pearman said that Mr Campbell needed to explain why the contract was not put out to tender, adding that procurement regulations needed to be followed in order to avoid allegations of corruption

He said: “Yet again the Burt administration has been exposed for blatantly ignoring procurement rules and awarding no-bid contracts without any tendering process.

“These exposures are filling out fast and furious. It was only a few months ago that the independent Office of the Auditor-General lambasted the Progressive Labour Party for multiple violations of the law in awarding resPartners the multimillion-dollar Travel Authorisation Form business.

“Governments are subject to procurement rules for a very good reason. Procurement rules exist to safeguard the process by which government contracts are awarded and to seek to reduce corruption.

“Governments should rarely, if ever, compete against local Bermudian businesses in the delivery of commercial services. When a government does enter the commercial arena, it must do so transparently and strictly in accordance with the well-established procurement rules.

“Rather than some unnamed spokesperson, the responsible PLP minister needs to be held accountable and explain to the Bermudian public why the procurement rules were breached in this instance.

“It should come as a relief to everyone that Bermuda still has independent judges still prepared to hold the current government to account.”

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Published August 10, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated August 10, 2023 at 7:41 am)

OBA slams Government for breach of tendering rules

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