Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Australian Defence Procurers in New Contract Row

Last night the ABC's 7.30 report revealed how an officer gave a contract to a company then changed jobs to join the firm.  Today the ABC has revealed flagrant favouritism in contract awarding.

[extract from ABC Online]

The Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) is under fresh fire this
morning with revelations of more questionable behaviour by some of its
employees.

ABC Radio's AM
program has reported that in clear breach of Defence Department rules,
two Defence procurement officers gave money to help prop up a Defence
contractor who was struggling financially.

The revelations come after ABC TV's The 7.30 Report
last night revealed the inspector-general of the Australian Defence
Force (ADF) has uncovered other serious issues linked to a contract for
army jackets worth $8 million.

The inspector-general had recommended disciplinary action be taken
against two DMO employees, and changes to the way DMO clothes and
equips the nation's troops.

In his report, the inspector-general criticised former DMO employee
Laurence Pain, who designed the combat jacket project for DMO, for
leaving DMO in 2003 to work briefly for the winning tenderer just weeks
after it won the contract in 2003.

Mr Pain admits the move was a conflict of interest and he also says
other DMO officers pressured him to design what he says was a
sub-standard jacket for the army.

He says he was extremely nervous and although he thought it was stupid, he still put his name to that tender specification.

"It was my job [that] I was asked to do - it was going to happen
whether I like it or not. I was dead against the whole thing anyway, I
thought it was just crazy," he said.

Mr Pain also outlines other instances that seriously questions Defence procurement processes.

"We might have a product that was sort of half-developed, and they
would just say, 'yes, let's give them that, that will do' and we would
say, 'well, it's not quite finished," he said.

Around six years ago, two Defence procurement employees gave money to a
Victorian company that had won a tender to supply socks to the army.

At the time, the company was struggling financially, partly because an official payment from Defence was apparently delayed.

It is believed the two Defence employees handed over their own money to help keep the company afloat.

There is no evidence the company itself was involved in any impropriety
but there is no doubt the procurement officers were in clear breach of
Defence rules.

One of the Defence employees linked to the improper payments was also
linked to the decision to give that same company lucrative
taxpayer-funded Defence contracts, partly on the basis that it was in
sound financial shape.

It is believed a procurement employee also had a close personal
relationship with the company owner that was not disclosed to Defence
management.

The uncovering of the payments angered senior Defence staff because it
raised questions about Defence's procurement process, whose integrity
is vital because it can affect the nation's troops.

What has continued to anger some Defence insiders is that at least one
of those caught up in the scandal have not only remained inside
Defence, but have recently been scrutinised about other improper
behaviour.

 If all this can happen with jackets, socks and boots, what could be occurring in the purchase of planes, tanks and ships?