BAYSWATER council has been wrongly framed as WA’s most secretive council when it comes to tendering and awarding contracts.
The Civil Contractors Federation WA released a report on Monday which gave Bayswater a poor review over its transparency, earning the council a full page story in The West Australian headlined: “Bayswater earns ‘most secretive’ gong as contract process slammed”.
But when the Voice queried the CCFWA over its finding, given what we’d seen in council minutes, the federation admitted it had got it wrong and decided to award Bayswater a “pass”.
Opaque tender processes have caused problems at various councils over the years as it opens up the risk that someone’s mate will get awarded a lucrative contract. The Corruption and Crime Commission found that occurred at Bayswater in 2003 and 2004, and it was a problem at Perth council leading up to the 2020 inquiry report.
The CCFWA report examined the secrecy around the big bucks councils award to contractors to carry out roadworks, maintenance, development, landscaping, and maintaining parks and golf courses.
It analysed minute papers from council meetings to come up with transparency scores, and says out of a possible 10 points “the City of Bayswater scored zero as it provided no information in support of tender award decisions”.
But the most recent tender Bayswater awarded at its July 26 meeting did publish the companies that tendered, their scores, and an explanation of why the winner was the best fit for the job.
All it excluded from the CCFWA’s transparency wishlist were the prices the tenderers bid – which most councils leave out –and the price the winner paid.
After the Voice asked CCFWA CEO Andy Graham how they’d arrived at the score, he responded: “I’m grateful you brought this to our attention as it does appear Bayswater are generally transparent in their tender evaluations.”
Mr Graham said the researcher based Bayswater’s score on two reports from council minutes that had no extra information. One was a job relating to a slip lane in Morley in January 2022 which wasn’t priced high enough to go out to open tender, and the other was for a tender for the management services at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre from July 2021.
“But as you rightly point out, both of these are not typical,” Mr Graham said. “From the evidence of those other tenders it’s clear that Bayswater actually deserved a ‘pass’ mark.
“For now we have urgently amended the report to omit reference to Bayswater and will revise the report ASAP. I will also be in touch with the council directly to clarify, apologise for the error and endorse their transparent practices.”
Bayswater mayor Filomena Piffaretti said: “I am deeply disappointed that a report, which its own authors have admitted is incorrect, has resulted in the City of Bayswater receiving such negative media coverage.”