Bottles of British Columbia wine on display at a liquor store on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

Many B.C. liquor branch contracts don’t comply with government standards: audit

Carol Bellringer says an audit examined 74 directly awarded contracts valued at about $25 million

The auditor general says too many contracts awarded by British Columbia’s liquor distribution branch aren’t in compliance with the province’s procurement policies and are awarded without competition.

Carol Bellringer says an audit examined 74 directly awarded contracts valued at about $25 million.

She says 55 per cent of the contracts that were directly awarded do not show the exceptional circumstances required to avoid the bidding process.

The report says 20 of the contracts indicated the liquor branch did not grant special favours to contractors, but the remaining 54 don’t have enough documentation to show fairness.

ALSO READ: B.C. liquor boss soaked up almost $250,000 in total compensation

Bellringer makes five recommendations including ensuring all liquor branch staff dealing with procurement take contract management training.

In its response, the branch says it expects staff to complete part of the training that was recommended by the end of the year and it has made other changes to provide greater oversight of how contracts are awarded.

It also says some of the findings of the audit were based on a lack of evidence in the files that were reviewed, but in many cases the branch did comply with the correct processes, such as conducting legal reviews.

Bellringer’s report says most of the contracts that were reviewed were for information technology services.

The Canadian Press

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