Toronto’s audit committee will probe why city staff disobeyed policy and made millions in untendered purchases before getting approval.
The decision comes the same day a Star investigation revealed staff had improperly approved purchases worth nearly $2.5 million since 2009, with nearly $1 million of that since Rob Ford took office.
“By bringing it to committee, I think we’re sending a message to our bureaucracy that we expect our purchasing policies are abided by strictly,” said Councillor Josh Matlow, who sought the committee to tackle the issue at its October meeting.
“What’s concerning to me is if there is an ongoing culture where some members of our staff are not abiding by our purchasing rules, then it raises the possibility of wrongdoing and not achieving the best prices that we’re spending tax dollars on.”
City policy states that staff must get approval before they spend money without seeking competitive bids — so-called sole-source purchasing.
However, the Star found several departments are repeatedly purchasing before getting authorization. Parks, forestry and recreation tops the list, having made 21 unapproved purchases in the past two years.
Auditor general Jeffrey Griffiths said he is reviewing the matter but at this point won’t be auditing the improper purchases.
His office will dig into it more in its year-end audit, where he will see if city staff properly adopted his recommendations from previous probes. The city began tracking “significant non-compliant” purchases after a 2009 auditor’s report.
Councillor Doug Ford, who, alongside his mayor brother, has railed against untendered purchases, said, “You know how we’re going to deal with this one. I’m going to leave it at that.”
However, Councillor Shelley Carroll warned that it’s important to take the time to dissect the problem in audit committee before councillors make “any more presumptions, and speak about who should lose their job.”
“I’d like to use the committee process to peel this thing back . . . and really know why this happens,” she said.
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