Call for inquiry into Victorian TAFE reform contract
2 October 2013 | A former Victorian energy bureaucrat has won her company a $1 million taxpayer-funded contract to oversee TAFE reforms despite her having no experience in the education sector and without having to go through a competitive tender process.
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development secretary Richard Bolt waived normal purchasing rules requiring a competitive tender process last July when he contracted his former colleague, Marianne Lourey, through her company, ACIL Tasman, at a cost of $517,900.
He extended the contract enable her to continue to lead Victoria’s TAFE reform taskforce for another 10 months at a cost of $432,418.
Lourey replaced a senior public servant, who has since been appointed to an executive position with a Commonwealth skills agency, as head of the TAFE reform taskforce. She agreed earlier this year to work for a month at no cost while her company went through a merger with Allen Consulting.
The merged entity, ACIL Allen Consulting, was then paid $49,068 between 24 April and 24 May bringing the total cost of the TAFE reform contract to $999,386. Ms Lourey is a director of the merged entity.
Lourey, who had worked for years under Bolt at the Primary Industries Department in energy and power generation roles, was appointed to ACIL Tasman’s board on 20 June last year
Without knowing the details of the contract and the services provided, it’s difficult to see the value proposition in this set of arrangements.
ACIL Allen [formerly ACIL Tasman] had the right capability, in Marianne Lourey, due to her commercial acumen and specialist expertise in quantitative analysis, market design and governance of commercial government entities. ACIL Allen was also in a position to enable Ms Lourey to commence the work in the time frames required.
Opposition spokesperson Steve Herbert has called for an Ombudsman inquiry saying:
It is alarming that almost $1 million has been awarded without a public tender process to secure the service of a consultant, without any experience in the TAFE sector. I am concerned that there may have been maladministration in relation to the procurement of this contract because of the way the contract was established, the size of the contract, the lack of public tender, the non-disclosure of a possible conflict…