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AT to be more open about contracts

In an interesting and positive move yesterday, Auckland Transport announced they would start releasing the details of every single contract they award, not just those over $50,000 as they currently do.

Auckland Transport (AT) will be releasing details of all its contracts publicly.

Since it was established in 2010, AT routinely published the details of all contracts valued over $50,000 on its website. That threshold has now been dropped to zero.

AT Chairman, Dr Lester Levy, says that as a publicly-funded body, the organisation wants to be as transparent and accountable as possible.

“There is a small extra administrative burden in releasing this sort of information, but we feel that it’s worth it to allow more open scrutiny of our activities,” he says. “This demonstrates a clear commitment to being open and accountable to the public at large.”

Dr Levy says the nature of some of AT’s activities, such as property negotiations, means that sometimes information is commercially-sensitive and involves third-party businesses or individuals.

“In those cases, and to protect the interests of ratepayers and taxpayers, they are dealt with confidentially. However, when the reason for that confidentiality no longer exists, the material is routinely released (and published on AT’s website).”

I wonder how much of this comes as a result of the fallout from the recent fraud case in which on former AT manager was sentenced to 5 years jail. We also know that this is something Penny Bright has been pushing for, I wonder if it means she will pay her rates now?

The information they currently release is here. One request for AT is it would be useful if AT could also provide a CSV version of the data in the PDF. Also it seems silly that AT only show the last 6 months. Why not just leave old versions of the file online.

The results on the website at the time of writing this are still only contracts for over $50k but the one thing that particularly surprises me is just how many are direct appointments. By my count, of the 260 contracts on the list, 229 of them (88%) were directly appointed. Here is a same of the current report.

I’m sure some people will be going through these results, with a fine tooth comb.

17 comments to AT to be more open about contracts

  • Ian W

    This is a positive move by AT, and is to be welcomed. I note Matt’s comment that “The one thing that particularly surprises me is just how many (of the contracts for over $50k) are direct appointments”, ie 88%. A large proportion of these direct appointment contracts are for over $100k. Yet the current AT Procurement Strategy states that ( section 5.7): “Competitive tendering is the default method under which we will source goods and services above the value of $100k.” It seems very strange to me that this default method is only being applied to a very small proportion (c12%?) of the contracts to which it is directly relevant. On the face of it, AT’s actions in this regard are not consistent with its Procurement Strategy; I wonder what the explanation for this is?

    • BJM

      Some of them clearly have only one possible supplier. Vector for example or Counties Power for undergrounding power. Others like legal services, or IT/Telecoms may well have overarching all of council contracts that these individual contracts sit within; which mean they end up direct appointments, even though the overall contract has been tendered. It would be helpful to know if a particular supplier sits within a wider preferred supplier procurement contract.

      • ghostwhowalksnz

        Vector uses contractors too. Electriserve comes to mind as one of the larger types of contractors. Im sure there are others

      • duker

        One item stands out as a deliberate drawing a veil.
        $52 K for Kensinston Swan & the ‘project’ is 20 Viaduct Harbour Ave when of course thats the street address of Kensington Swan. What is clear becomes opaque when you know how.

  • Kelvin

    Looking at the list of contracts. They are quite expensive for the things done Ie: 300k for four bus shelters. 2M for the parking APP. Did AT have a tender process to get more value for money?

  • Sacha

    Did wonder about the lack of tendering – what other methods do they use to ensure good service and prices are achieved?

    Seems Ms Bright is digging her heels in until AT publish all their *sub-contracted* contracts as well – and has complained to the Serious Fraud Office in the meantime: https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-28022017/#comment-1304749

  • Penny Bright will never pay her rates while she has an adoring fan club who will egg her on to new levels of grandstanding and act like “flying monkeys” to those who dare criticise her. She’s as effectively insulated from reality as Donald Trump, and like Trump she also approves of Russian bombs in Syria.

  • Anthony

    What is Auckland council ex arc, $2.593M? Ex acc $1.618M?
    Why are Auckland council paying NZTA $6M for the east west link and $19M for kirkbride?
    $2.163M to Australian database consultants? For paystay Parking?
    $21M britomart cpo co?
    So how about the rest of council expenditure, watercare, etc.

    • Shane

      It’s only AT doing this. The rest of the council and it’s CCO’s, who knows if they will follow suit.

      And I believe the NZTA bits are to do with future proofing the Kirbride trench for rail/LRT. There was some news about that like a year ago, where NZTA made AT pay for that.

  • “$230,000 to design and plan the Hibiscus Coast Busway Station” you what??? It’s design?? It looks like it just grew out of the mud and gorse! A loop road two toilets and a handful of bus shelters with a carpark in the middle. My kids would have done better with lego. What a joke.

  • earle howe

    What about the contracts for publi transport? Will those be revealed?

  • Jon Reeves

    We all need to congratulate Peeny Bright on this. Through active lobbying at all levels, including her many appearances in public she is most definitely the single person who has driven this issue. I do like people who are willing to stand up against the status quo, even though I may not always agree with their modus operandi.

    • Will be good to see her finally pay her rates now that this is sorted.

    • Ari

      It is doubtful she contributed much to the decision at all given that it is AT that is doing this and not AC. Council should have just seized her house long ago like they are allowed to do. Refusing to pay for services she was using while the rest of us had to pay for her. Disgraceful.

      Direct appoints are easy if there is only one contractor who can do the job. Tendering is obviously more time consuming and if you give it to the cheapest tender and they do a crap job then you can’t do much about it. Of course you may get some cost savings, but the value may be less. Hard to tell.

      Regardless, everything council does costs too much. It’s ridiculous.

  • Realist

    The solution is obvious.

    Stop using consultants for everything! Just a rort of public money.

  • duker

    Would be interesting when the CRL contracts are let. The interesting thing is the cost of various sections. eg Tunnelling, the stations and the tunnel fitout.
    For the Sydney Northwest Metro the press releases gave the tunneling only contract as A$1.15 bill for 15km of twin tunnels. Thats only A$76 mill per km, but of course the set up costs are the same if its 15 km or 5km so maybe its NZ$100 mill per Km for the 3.4km for the bored tunnels in Auckland.
    http://www.sydneymetro.info/northwest/project-overview

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