APTN National News
OTTAWA–The federal watchdog overseeing government contracts is asking Indian Affairs to review a $25,000 contract awarded to a former departmental employee.
The contract to review the department’s Aboriginal Economic Development Program was awarded to the Ottawa-based bureaucrat who left Indian Affairs last fall.
The department withdrew the contract after a complaint from the Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) in Manitoba. One of SCO’s concerns was that the contract was awarded in contravention of the standard one-year cooling off period after someone leaves the department.
In a Oct. 13 letter, obtained by APTN National News, federal deputy procurement ombudsman Oriana Trombetti asks Michael Wernick, Indian Affairs deputy minister, to consider a review.
“I am writing to bring to your attention information provided to our office…regarding the practices surrounding the posting and subsequent cancellation of (an) Aboriginal set-aside advance contract award notice,” said Trombetti.
Trombetti said the contract fell outside her office’s mandate but should still be investigated because of a potential conflict of interest.
Indian Affairs awarded the contract on June 29 but cancelled it in August after the SCO took their complaint to the office of former Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl.
In turn, Strahl’s office turned the issue over to the procurement ombudsman.
Indian Affairs also initiated its own investigation.
Before he left, the former bureaucrat was working in a the department’s economic development section and was involved in a program now facing court action from an Aboriginal bank over the department’s decision to freeze out Aboriginal financial firms from the initiative.
The department was not immediately available for comment.