Crs demand 'more open' contract process

5:52 pm on 5 July 2011

Some Christchurch City councillors are alarmed that contracts worth $2.8 million have been awarded without a competitive tender process.

The council has signed off 14 contracts with various design and architecture firms to help develop the draft plan for rebuilding the city.

Councillors Tim Carter, Jamie Gough and Jimmy Chen have questioned why the contracts were approved without tenders being called for.

Mr Carter is alarmed at the decisions being made behind closed doors which have excluded councillors and ratepayers.

He says it is vital for a public organisation to award contracts after a competitive process to ensure value for money and to make sure the best and most suited consultants have been chosen.

The council has set aside $11.8 million in the budget for rebuilding the central city and is expected to have a draft plan out for public consultation in August.

The council says that, due to the complexity and scale of the work required, it had to appoint suitable consultants immediately.

One of the 14 contracts awarded so far has been to Impact Project Management, to the value of $878,936.

Contracts in excess of $500,000 cannot usually be signed off without consultation with councillors.

Mr Carter says he believes council staff have breached their legal authority and he's demanding a more open process from now on.

Another city councillor, Sue Wells, says it is perfectly normal for council staff to award contracts without consulting councillors.

Ms Wells says with the limited amount of time the council has to put together a rebuild plan, it would not be feasible to debate every one.

The council has until the end of this year to submit its rebuild plan to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.