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New questions about bus contracts

Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Author: David Washington, Indaily

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THE Auditor-General has identified gaps and weaknesses in the State Government's management of Adelaide's controversial public bus contracts.

In response, the government has revealed that all performance benchmarks for bus operators were only finally put in place in July this year - the best part of a year after the new contracts were awarded.

The Auditor-General's report for 2011-12 has identified a range of contractual issues including the delay in the finalisation of performance benchmarks and the absence of a contract management framework.

In addition, the report says that, at the time of the audit, there was no performance measure for 'connections achieved'. Failure to meet connections has been one of the key criticisms of the new bus operators.

The report says that the bus contracts required "the process compliance performance indicator" to be established and agreed between the Minister and the bus operators by 30 September 2011 and applied from 1 January 2012.

The report found that, at the time of the audit, this had not happened.

Effectively, this means that the full mechanism for performance management was not in place during the period in which commuters were suffering the most from poor performance.

The Auditor-General has found other gaps in the performance management system.

In particular, the bus contracts require operators to provide a monthly report to the minister to enable assessment of contractor performance.

"The audit found the department has not implemented a process to ensure information provided by bus contractors is valid, complete and accurate," the Auditor-General's report says.

"In response, the department advised that the monthly reports are analysed and it will establish processes to ensure, where possible, the information provided is valid, complete and accurate."

The audit found that the department was still finalizing a contract management framework for the new bus contracts.

"The absence of a contract management framework may result in ineffective contract management which may, in turn result in the department not identifying areas of non-compliance with key contract provisions and/or inadequate performance by the contractors," the report says.

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