Jersey States savings unit 'an embarrassment'

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Jersey's treasury minister should be embarrassed by the government's central procurement department, according to a former island politician.

Ben Shenton, who chaired the public accounts committee, told BBC News the department costs as much as it saves.

It follows a review of States procurement procedures, which made 25 recommendations for saving money.

The BBC approached Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf for a response, but he was not available to comment.

'Saved nothing'

Mr Shenton said: "The cost of the procurement department is way above what they are actually saving at the moment.

"It's a problem if it is costing you £10 to save £1 on an envelope when you take all the form filling into account.

"The cost of the department, at £3m, is a big cost to try to make savings on... the last set of accounts show they saved nothing.

"I'd be immensely embarrassed... you've got a department here that is costing a small fortune in taxpayer's money and it's not delivering."

Travel mystery

The Jersey Audit Office report focused on deals for transport and print contracts worth more than £100,000.

It reveals officials took three years to discover the States was spending £1m more than previously thought on printing.

Despite the formation of a procurement strategy in 2008, it was 2011 when a specialist contractor identified £1.6m of print expenditure, whereas previous accounts recorded £600,000.

Print expenditure has fallen 41% since then, although the report also raised concerns the specialist firm involved in 2011 was part of the same group which eventually won the managed print contract.

Corporate travel savings since 2011 were "in excess of the initial target" although it is not clear by how much.

Karen McConnell, Jersey's Comptroller and Auditor General, said as relevant figures were not reported it "impeded accountability".

She said: "The time is now right to revisit the corporate procurement strategy and to ensure that good procurement principles are followed across the States as a whole."

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