The Age | 28 October 2013
The Ombudsman is to investigate a contentious decision by Victoria’s top education bureaucrat to pay a former colleague’s company $1 million to oversee TAFE reforms. But the Victorian government rejects any conflict of interest involved.
George Brouwer has written to Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall to advise him of his investigation into Richard Bolt’s hiring of his former primary industries colleague, Marianne Lourey, without a competitive tender process.
A former energy bureaucrat, Ms Lourey had no experience in the education sector.
The Age also reports that the education department’s deputy secretary, Kym Peake, has awarded her former employer, KPMG, contracts worth almost $500,000 to work on TAFE reform.
In one case, Ms Peake gave a $200,000 contract to KPMG to organise ”ministerial roundtables” on TAFE issues without going to public tender. Ms Peake was formerly the head of public sector governance at KPMG.
Documents show KPMG was awarded another $400,000 contract last year by another education department bureaucrat for work on the TAFE reform.
29 October 2013 | In a statement to The Australian newspaper, the department said Mr Bolt had taken no part in interviewing or engaging Ms Lourey. It said Mr Bolt at the time had “emphasised that no account should be taken of her previous work with him, to avoid any perceived or actual bias in selection.”
The department also said that during her 8 months at KPMG in 2008, Ms Peake had never worked with the KPMG partner who had led the contracted work for the department in 2011 and 2012 and she doesn’t have a continuing personal or financial relationship with partners at KPMG,”