Irregular engagements, contractual design flaws and a weak contract management function, dilute value for money in Mt. Carmel Hospital’s contract for outsourced clerical services.

The Auditor General, Charles Deguara, today presented to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Anglu Farrugia, the National Audit Office (NAO) report entitled ‘A review on the Contract for Mount Carmel Hospital’s Outsourced Clerical Services’. This audit primarily focuses on the contract document governing outsourced clerical services at Mount Carmel Hospital (MCH) and the manner it is being utilised and managed by the hospital.

NAO found that, as at time of writing of this report, MCH was acquiring this service through a one year negotiated procedure since a new tender was not awarded before the contract’s expiry in July 2018. This review also showed that a number of design flaws prevailed in this contract, particularly the lack of any performance measurement mechanisms. In addition, ownership of the contract was not assigned to a key responsible official within MCH, which put the hospital in a disadvantageous position when it came to monitoring and ensuring the holistic implementation of the clerical contract.

Though the contract under review originally called for the deployment of approximately 60 full-time equivalents (FTEs), 134 FTEs were deployed as at September 2018. NAO however found that 47 of these outsourced personnel, though engaged through a contract for clerical services, have been deployed to carry out non-clerical responsibilities, such as maintenance and security duties. This audit has also shown that there have been instances in which Government officials were directly involved in sourcing and referring individuals to the service provider so that they may be engaged and deployed at MCH under this contract. In addition, this Office observed that, while personnel engaged through this contract and deployed to work as clerks are delivering an acceptable level of quality in their work, some of those deployed to carry out non-clerical duties are not meeting the expected level of service. This concern is accentuated by MCH’s management’s assertion that it was found extremely difficult to dismiss a number of non-performers given that it itself had referred them for engagement to the service provider.

While this exercise was primarily focused on the contract for clerical service, NAO also made a number of observations concerning the contract for cleaning services at MCH while conducting its review. In this regard, this Office mainly found that: the cleaning service was procured through a call for quotations even though it significantly exceeded the financial threshold for this method of procurement; no formal and documented contract was in place; a number of deployed personnel carried out tasks not related to cleaning duties; and the output of the outsourced personnel as well as the quality of the cleaning products being used at MCH were questionable.

These and other issues are comprehensively presented in the audit report together with this Office’s recommendations.

To view report (.PDF) please follow link.