Injunction over school broadband contract

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 13:34 24/02/2014

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An injunction has been slapped on the Education Ministry, preventing it from awarding a contract to prepare another 600 schools for ultrafast broadband.

Auckland firm Telco Technology Services, which lost out on the tender to upgrade the schools' internal networks, obtained the injunction from the High Court at Wellington.

Judge David Collins agreed with the company that it was "seriously arguable" the company had been unfairly disadvantaged by the ministry.

Telco Technology Services is one of two companies that had previously been awarded contracts to upgrade the networks of 1400 schools.

The Education Ministry signalled in a request for proposals that it was likely to also award the remaining job of upgrading a further 600 schools to two or three contractors, and that they should price their bids accordingly.

But it then decided to negotiate an exclusive contract with another, unnamed company. Telco Technology Services said that had it known the contract could be awarded to one firm, it would have put forward "significantly different" costings, but it was not given the opportunity to bid on that basis.

The ministry said the injunction would delay the project, inconvenience another 25 service providers and result in it incurring "considerable additional costs in running a further tender process".

Judge David Collins acknowledged the injunction might prevent the ministry completing the network upgrades by the end of next year. But he ruled it was seriously arguable the ministry had "breached its fundamental procedural obligations when it failed to give Telco Technology Services the opportunity to be assessed on a fair and equal basis with the successful tenderer".

A full hearing of the company's complaint has been set down for March 17.

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- Fairfax Media

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