Audit finds HCC lost original copies of contracts

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 09:37 05/12/2013
Hamilton City Council
FAIRFAX NZ
OH DEAR: Audit finds Hamilton City Council lost signed original copies of major infrastructure contracts.

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Signed original contracts for major public infrastructure works have disappeared from the Hamilton City Council's archives, city managers have confirmed.

External auditors stumbled across the documents' loss and remarked on it in their final annual report, considered by the council's audit and risk committee yesterday.

An investigation to find three missing contracts was launched after they were requested by Audit New Zealand, with a review to be done by the end of January.

Council spokeswoman Elizabeth Hughes said there was no risk to the council from the originals being missing, and the audit review would prevent it happening again.

"There are signed documents that verify each of the three contracts' terms, conditions and price, and also signed acceptance of these by the council."

The council's procurement policy and procedures manual requires the hard copy of signed contracts to be held in one of two places - in Information Services' deed cabinet on the seventh floor of the council building, or in City Infrastructure's contracts file system on the sixth floor. A single document store is now planned.

The three contracts together cover $5 million of work, their loss prompting auditors to recommend that they be "located as soon as possible" and stored in one place.

One, for works on wastewater interceptors, was approved in September 2012 for $3.2m.

The others were for $1.2m and $650,000, for Pukete's bioreactor upgrade.

In another off note by the city's auditors, it was pointed out that the council's records of mediated settlements meant it was difficult to distinguish between payments made for redundancy, severance, and hurt and humiliation. Council managers have since altered the way mediated settlements with staff were recorded, itemising payments.

That would give an "accurate and clear" account of severance payments, they said.

Severance payments made each year must be disclosed in the council's annual report.

Audit NZ's finalised management reports were received by the council's audit watchdog committee yesterday, with the lost documents and vague record-keeping revealed in a supplementary report on less significant issues detected by the audit.

Audit NZ's report also acknowledged the progress that Hamilton City Council made in areas such as asset management planning, project management, risk management, and handling conflicts of interest. daniel.adams@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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