Nunavut minister defends contracting practices

“There has been no evidence provided of such fraudulent activity happening in the department”

Lorne Kusugak, Nunavut’s minister of Community and Government Services, says his department does not play favourites when it awards contracts through requests for proposals. (Photo by John Thompson)

By Emma Tranter

Nunavut’s minister of community and government services says Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone has unfairly maligned his department.

Lorne Kusugak rose in the legislature on a point of privilege last Friday to correct what he says is an inaccurate statement made by Lightstone in a May 28 Nunatsiaq News article.

The article discusses Lightstone’s reaction to answers he received from Kusugak to written questions he tabled in the legislature on March 4 over the department’s contracting practices.

Kusugak specifically took issue with Lightstone saying, “It’s quite easy to manipulate specifications and requirements of RFPs to basically write it so that one pre-selected vendor could qualify for it.”

“There has been no evidence provided of such fraudulent activity happening in the department and, if anyone is aware that there is, it is critical for them to make either myself, this legislature, or the appropriate policing authorities aware of it,” Kusugak said last Friday  in the legislature.

Kusugak said accusing the department’s employees of wrongdoing in their procurement practice is a very serious accusation and questions his credibility as minister.

The issue came up again during Tuesday’s sitting when Lightstone rose to ask Kusugak how often his department receives complaints of potential bias in requests for proposals, or RFPs.

“I don’t know how often, but on occasion there are questions raised on procurement,” Kusugak responded.

“The minister has just admitted that the Department of CGS has received complaints about bias in RFPs,” Lightstone said.

Lightstone said he believes the minister does have evidence of bias in RFPs and asked Kusugak again how often complaints about these biases are received.

“I guess we could twist words how we want to twist them,” Kusugak said in response.

Kusugak added that his earlier comments referred to the fact that if the department receives questions about a contract in an RFP, the department will “put an addendum in the contract to say that we were asked about this particular thing.”

Lightstone asked if Kusugak could share how many complaints his department has received about biased RFPs and if going forward, that information could be shared in its procurement activity report.

“The issue my colleague wrote to me about is an issue I won’t go too far into, but every person who wants to bid on a contract has the right to ask, “How come you’re asking for this kind of licence to do the activity?” I don’t think that is a bias if you’re asking for someone with a heavy equipment operator licence to go on a contract for snow removal,” Kusugak said.

“I will look, but I’m pretty sure that our department of procurement in Community and Government Services has not been charged, sued, or found guilty of any wrongdoing, I’m not aware of any cases where they are liable for such action that my colleague is accusing them or assuming they are guilty of bias,” Kusugak said.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Simon K. on

    Its time this Minister got moved from having anything to do with contracts. Inuit local Business don’t get any support from him. When he is the Minister of the Department, local business lost contracts. Look at the year when he was Minister and most if not all INUIT Local Businesses lost fuel contracts to Arctic Co-ops.
    Lightstone is right on with his comments, keep up with the questions.

    • Posted by Simplesimon2.0 on

      Simple fact most or all contractors that held the fuel contracts misused the Govt money from these fuel contracts and still owe to this day..

  2. Posted by Simple Simon on

    I respect Lorne’s integrity – doing it the right way!!

  3. Posted by Al on

    I was originally with Adam in where he was headed with the hiring practices and such. But I think Adam is crossing a line here and running a smear campaign. Adam could very well be right. But prove it. These accusations are pretty bold. I’d like for him to provide an example with the rfp(since it’s publix) and who would of been awarded this RFP. He only needs to post one RFP. Just one. Let’s see it Adam.

  4. Posted by about time on

    Happy to see Ministers finally shooting back. 2 of these MLAs (AL & JM) attack without facts or knowledge, I wonder do they realize they are a part of the government and can actually work with the ministers towards solutions.

    Nah its so much easier to attack and grand stand. The ministers and MLAs should switch places that would shut them up LOL.

  5. Posted by pudlo taktu on

    This guy ain’t to smart politically. Accuse CGS of some sort of malfeance without proof. Anyways missed the point. It was about using contractors to fill gn fulltime positions. I mean who would have guessed.

  6. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Minister Kusugak please give your head a shake. The GN has been using contractor supplied descriptions of the services required on a RFP for all of the 20 years that the GN has been in existence. Your government in general does not have the expertise to draft your own RFPs in many cases so you ask one, two, or three companies what they think is needed and then your managers cobble together the requirements.

    There are so few complaints because businesses don’t want to bite the hands that feeds them but in some cases it has been very clear who is going to be awarded a contract. There have always been a couple of old boys networks in the north. I can’t believe that you are unaware.

  7. Posted by The Native on

    In CGS if someone tries to point out that something is wrong or unfair they get let go.

  8. Posted by The Native on

    I have sat in a CGS board room and heard them say let make the a requirement of the RFP have “blank” for a name.

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