The Pontiac Journal reports the results of an audit the Western Quebec School Board commissioned into its own procurement and contracting policies, this done in the wake of allegations of impropriety involving a WQSB director and a construction company. (More from the Journal here and here; a newspaper website should really timestamp its articles, you know?) But buried in the lede, and apparently unrelated to the O’Shea allegations, are revelations that contracts were done rather sloppily: non-compliant contracts, single-bid contracts without price verification, that sort of thing. It smells of incompetence rather than malfeasance. Take, for example, a surprising amount of money that had been spent on contracts for cleaning services:
For example, for the 2001-2002 school year, the cleaning contract for South Hull Elementary School was $40,131 and in 2012-2013 it reached $83,665, but for 2013-2014 the contract dropped to $37,098. For Eardley Elementary, the cleaning contract was $20,713 for the 2001-2002 school year. In 2010-2011 it jumped to $156,563 from $36,432 in 2009-2010. In 2011-2012 it reached a staggering $173,668. For the 2013-2014 school year the school board changed service providers and the price dropped to $23,144.
That’s astonishing: cleaning services for just two of the WQSB’s five urban elementary schools had ballooned to nearly a quarter million dollars a year. But those services now cost $60,000 a year — a savings of $180,000. How could one contractor justify $173,668 for a job another contractor could do for seven and a half times less? Anyone who recalls the stress and angst over the Board’s proposal to close schools (such as Shawville’s elementary school) to make up a million-dollar shortfall last year should be shaking with rage right now.