Councillors voted to change the way the municipality does business last night when they approved an overhaul to the City of Ballarat's procurement policy.
That area of council has been under serious scrutiny over the past year due to the publication of two separate reports - an IBAC investigation last September and an Ombudsman's report two months ago.
The changes were approved as per the officers' recommendation with one amendment - to bring the policy back for a review in front of council in six months' time to see how it is working.
I think this [review] is a great step forward but I do not think until we try it that we will know where the chinks in the armour areCEO Janet Dore
The interim CEO Janet Dore, who made a promise on the day of her appointment last month to review the policy as a priority, welcomed the tweak.
She said a wide range of people in the organisation had been involved, including experts, "frequent flyers", as well as those who rarely needed to use the procurement processes.
"I think this [review] is a great step forward but I do not think until we try it that we will know where the chinks in the armour are," she said.
"I am also really pleased that it does refer to conduct of councillors and staff because frankly at times there has been a questionable amount of what could be described as browbeating in this spaceDeputy mayor Cr Belinda Coates
When asked by Cr Des Hudson to elaborate on the changes, Ms Dore said they were designed to give local contractors slightly more weighting in any evaluation.
Procedures would be standardised, she said and procurement panels would be a mix of area experts and independent members. There would also be more detailed guidance on evaluating tenders, leaving less room for subjectivity with guidelines to give a "more firm ability to weight particular characteristics."
She said: "We are also looking to make this much more transparent in terms of reports to council on evaluations and recommendations for procurement."
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Deputy mayor Cr Belinda Coates spoke in favour of the changes put forward, saying she was pleased "quite a significant review" had happened in "such a short timeframe". She welcomed the inclusion of environmental sustainability criteria and the extra weighting given to local businesses.
Cr Coates added: "I am also really pleased that it does refer to conduct of councillors and staff because frankly at times there has been a questionable amount of what could be described as browbeating in this space."
Cr Grant Tillett, who had tried to introduce changes to procurement policy in May, also spoke in favour and suggested the six-month review.
"[Procurement] was one of the serious elements that was challenged in the Ombudsman's report, no question about it," he said.
"Historically, it's been an issue that has caused me an enormous amount of grief over the last three and a half years. I am pleased there is a serious attempt to revise this document."
OMBUDSMAN COVERAGE: TIMELINE
May 14 The report is tabled
- City of Ballarat ombudsman report: 'jobs for mates' allegations regarding Ballarat Council executives
- Ombudsman report into Ballarat council: councillors express disappointment
- Ombudsman report into City of Ballarat: Councillors told to scrutinise CEO behaviour
- City of Ballarat ombudsman report: The intriguing finer details
- Ombudsman's report into Ballarat Council: What next for council officers?
- ANALYSIS: Troubled waters at town hall
May 18, 2020: Resignation and sacking
Mayor Ben Taylor with interim CEO Janet Dore. Picture: Kate Healy.
May 19: Mayor talks about Justine Linley's sacking
May 21: Price fixing links of acting CEO confirmed
May 24: Fresh doubts published over recruitment processes/ Fall out continues over decision to terminate Justine Linley's CEO contract
May 28: Push for new interim CEO
June 10: New CEO announced
June 12: First day of new interim CEO, Janet Dore
June 18: Directors jobs to be re-advertised
June 29: Director of business services resigns
July 7: Director Cameron Cahill resigns
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