Integrity Commission describes JCAA’s awarding of a multi-million dollar contract to a Canadian firm, as “disingenuous and unethical”

by April 14th, 2021

Disingenuous and unethical – that’s how the Integrity Commission described the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, JCAA, after the authority was weighed and found wanting, in relation to the award of a contract to Canadian company, Intelcan Techno Systems Incorporated.

The contract was for the design and construction of air traffic control towers at the Norman Manley and the Sangster International Airports.

Numerous breaches were highlighted in the over 200 page report, submitted by the commission to Parliament, yesterday (April 13).

The project that was expected to take 18 months, ran into 8 years, and cost the government substantially more than initially expected.

The JCAA had disclosed that the award of the contract to Intelcan for the construction of the control towers, emanated from an unsolicited proposal.

According to the report, the JCAA began negotiations with Intelcan in January 2006, long before a team from the authority went to Cuba for talks at the invitation of the Canadian company.

A formal proposal was made in May 2006, and then by July 2010, the contract was signed.

The Director of Investigation concluded that the JCAA was disingenuous when it categorized the proposal received from Intelcan as an ‘unsolicited proposal’, because based on the circumstances prior to the submission of the proposal by Intelcan to the JCAA, it should not have been categorized as such.

The commission found that Intelcan’s invitation to travel to Cuba, and the subsequent acceptance thereof, by officers of the JCAA was unethical and unprincipled.

The Director of Investigation is of the opinion that the acceptance of the hospitality from Intelcan brings into question the integrity of the process and could be viewed as an attempt by Intelcan to favourably influence the JCAA’s decision.

It was pointed out that 3 entities had put in bids for the project, Intelcan, Omni Construction, and Rhoden Young Enterprise; however the bids from Omni and Rhoden Young were not considered.

The Director of Investigation said there was no evidence to indicate that the proposals from the other 2 entities, were subjected to any evaluation or review process, and that the JCAA should have utilised a competitive procurement methodology, in keeping with the provisions of the then applicable procurement guidelines.

It said the award of the contract to Intelcan for the construction of the air traffic control towers, was not in compliance with the standards prescribed by law.

The Commission said the JCAA beached procurement guidelines and that the JCAA acted with undue haste in the premature signing of the contract with Intelcan.

The Director of Investigation considered the actions of the JCAA to be disingenuous, having signed a contract with Intelcan for a particular cost, seeking the endorsements and approval of the National Contracts Commission and the cabinet respectively, whilst being fully aware that the infrastructural amenities and any change in the site location would result in an increase in the contract value.

The contract sum related to the construction of the air traffic control towers at the Norman Manley International Airport and the Sangster International Airport was initially just over 19 million Canadian dollars.

At the conclusion of the project, the final contract sum paid to Intelcan was over 20 million Canadian dollars, which represents a 2.51 percent increase in the contract sum.

The commission added that the JCAA breached the government procurement guidelines by awarding a contract to Intelcan to construct the towers despite the fact that the entity was not registered with the national contracts commission.

As it relates to the revelations made by the JCAA, that Ray Campbell Limited was contracted to prepare a ‘project costing’ for the construction of the new air traffic control towers, and provide a detailed architectural design which was outside of the scope of the contract, the director of investigation found that compensation on the basis of ‘effort’ is neither indicative of prudent financial management of entrusted public funds, nor in keeping with the provisions of the Financial Administration and Audit Act.

Further, the absence of a written contract with Ray Campbell limited is a breach of government procurement guidelines, and that the payment of over $600,000 dollars to the company, should be examined by the Auditor General and/or the Ministry of Finance with a view to determining whether surcharge procedures should be applied and/or any other action deemed relevant.

The commission has charged the procurement committee of the JCAA, to consistently undertake a review of procurement activities, to ensure compliance with the standard procurement process in the award of government contracts.