The Auditor-General (AG) has cleared Michelle Williams, a non-executive director of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), of any irregularities with regards to the awarding of a tender to provide SITA with business process management services.
Zodwa Manase, the non-executive chairperson of SITA, says the Board asked the AG to investigate the tender, which has not been awarded, following allegations made in the media that Williams had sent an SMS to the former SITA CEO, Llewellyn Jones, instructing him to appoint Praxis Consulting.
“We asked the AG to undertake a full and thorough investigation of all aspects of the tender, from its advertisement, evaluation through to its awarding and specifically to investigate any undue intervention by Ms Williams. I’m pleased to report that the AG has concluded in its report that there was no evidence of any impropriety on behalf of Ms Williams in tender process.”
According to the AG, no evidence could be found that Williams was involved in the procurement process of the tender up to the final evaluation and recommendation by the Bid Evaluation Committee. It further found that Williams, as an e-government official, was entitled to assist the accounting officer in the final awarding of the contract.
The AG states that Williams was well within her rights to recommend to the former CEO that Praxis Consulting be awarded the tender. “Ms Williams admitted to sending an SMS to the former CEO advising him to recommend Praxis Consulting, after she had received an e-mail from him requesting guidance. Notwithstanding her advice, the former CEO recommended the tender be awarded to Gijima AST.”
According to the AG, Jones had confirmed the procurement legislation and integrity of the process. However, the AG found his statement was not a true reflection of the actual course of events and that in various instances the processes involved in awarding the tender were in contravention of SITA’s procurement regulations.
The AG also established that SITA had changed the criteria for functionality, price and BEE points without the approval of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), nor that of Williams, who was the designated official for the tender.
Manase says the AG has, as part of its investigation, recommended that SITA should improve its controls to ensure that officials comply with SITA’s procurement regulations during the evaluation and awarding of tenders and that action should be taken against officials who did not comply with the tender regulations.