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Published: 2010-09-14 00:00:00

Environment Waikato’s pest control contracting processes have been given the thumbs up in a review by Audit New Zealand.

The review was commissioned by EW after media articles raised allegations of unfair practices, favouritism and bias against some contractors over the awarding of animal pest control contracts.

Chief executive Bob Laing said he had been confident there was no basis for the allegations aired in the media but the Audit NZ review was commissioned with a view to providing the public with independent assurance.

"The report is a solid endorsement of the integrity of the council’s biosecurity and heritage group when it came to letting contracts. Audit NZ’s findings illustrate clearly that the team is setting a good example and following the correct processes when letting contracts."

A letter from Audit NZ before the council’s regional pest management committee today said "nothing has come to our attention to indicate that the procurement practices used by EW are not appropriate, compliant with good procurement practices and conducted with integrity".

The review covered all the business processes associated with buying goods and services for animal pest control.

Audit NZ sampled a range of contracts. "The sample we selected provided evidence of appropriate purchasing practices, complying with EW’s procurement policies and procedures and in accordance with good practice."

EW also applied appropriate processes to ensure that "pricing for non-competitively purchased animal pest control services represented value for money".

Audit NZ’s report noted the very limited number of available suppliers for aerial 1080 application. "To mitigate against this small contracting market, EW has chosen to avoid nominating a particular control method for its animal pest control contracts, and has made the market aware that its preference is for aerial control only in areas where access or other significant issues identify that it may be more effectively used."

The report also noted that EW was aware there were small contractors in the market as well as large ones. "When packaging the work it is actively considering how to encourage the smaller contractors to compete for the work by offering smaller pest control operation areas, yet still ensuring the work packaging offers value for money to EW."