Newfoundland Audit Finds Unethical Spending

By: Anna Krol

In its September 2018 report titled Management of the Procurement of Goods and Services – Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, the Newfoundland Auditor General found Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) to be persistently non-compliant with the NLESD procurement policies and Public Tender Act. Although NLESD did have a general procurement policy, the report concluded that there were unaddressed gaps as well as an inconsistent and casual attitude by staff with regards to following policies currently in place.

The Newfoundland Auditor General found persistent unethical behaviour by staff, such as unauthorized expenditures and missing documentation of invoice payments. The Auditor further acknowledged that the lack of oversight and policy development by senior management and the Board of Trustees left NLESD susceptible to fraudulent transactions, undermined a fair and transparent procurement process.

The areas where frequent non-compliance occurred were most prominently found in purchase authorization and vendor selection. Other unethical activity was also identified such as the personal use of procured property and services by NLESD staff.

When examining purchase authorization, the auditor found that purchase orders were being split to avoid obtaining quotations or going to public tender. There was also a risk of unauthorized transactions occurring as there was no formal document that assigned purchase authority limits for buyers.

With regard to vendor selection, an inconsistency was found as to when public tenders were issued and when quotes were collected. The Auditor found that expenditures were often not properly authorized and that a lack of documentation existed for the payment of invoices.

Various other unethical behaviour was found by the Auditor such as unusual purchases of vehicle tires that only matched the make and model of personal vehicles, the deployment of city staff to work on the personal dwellings of employees and various high-end clothing purchases with a lack of documentation to support the rationale of the purchases.