General News of Sunday, 23 July 2017
As part of responses to the allegations levelled against her as compromising her independence and neutrality, Mrs Charlotte Osei, the chairperson of the Electoral Commission has explained why she requested for a new office complex from the presidency at Ridge in Accra.
She said the current head office building of the EC located near the Ridge Hospital in Accra, has leaking and damaged roofs, poor electrical wiring, damp walls and lack of storage facilities to store election equipment resulting in significant losses and inefficient use of resources at the Commission.
She therefore informed the Commission in late 2015 that the Commission had requested new office premises from the Presidency to house the new secretariat of the Association of African Election Authorities (AAEA) after Ghana had been voted as a permanent secretariat of the AAEA in July 2015 with responsibility to provide office space for the AAEA.
However, in their petition to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), asking for investigations into the administration of Mrs Osei, the “concerned staff” of the EC claimed that Mrs Osei went for the office without approval of the commission.
They claimed: “With the Chairperson’s insatiable demand of affluence and flamboyance, she unilaterally awarded a contract to the tune of GHc3.9 million for demarcation and partitioning of the said office complex without recourse to the Commission.”
“She claimed she sought approval from the Public Procurement Authority but strangely enough, the contract sum is higher than approved level.”
Below is the allegation and response on the new office complex
Claim 7: “As part of compromising her independence and neutrality, Mrs. Charlotte Osei claimed that the Electoral Commission has been allocated a new building for use as office complex without the approval of the Commission.
The 7 member Commission has not at any point in time formally requested for any office allocation since the Commission sees nothing wrong the current office. With the Chairperson’s insatiable demand of affluence and flamboyance, she unilaterally awarded a contract to the tune of GHS3.9 million for demarcation and partitioning of the said office complex without recourse to the Commission.
She claimed she sought approval from the Public Procurement Authority but strangely enough, the contract sum is higher than approved level.”
Response 7: It is untrue that the 7 members of the Commission do not see anything wrong with the current offices. Commission members have constantly complained to the Chairperson about leaking and damaged roofs, poor electrical wiring, damp walls and lack of storage facilities to store elections equipment resulting in significant losses and inefficient use of resources at the Commission.
The Chairperson informed the Commission in late 2015 that the Commission had requested new office premises from the Presidency to house the new secretariat of the Association of African Election Authorities (AAEA) after Ghana had been voted as a permanent secretariat of the AAEA in July 2015 with responsibility to provide office space for the AAEA.
In February 2016, at a Commission meeting members were informed that Government had allocated a new office building to the Commission through the office of the Chief of Staff.
Members were further informed that the new office was a new building and would only require partitioning and all commissioners were encouraged to visit the new premises.
The Chairperson subsequently visited the new site with the two Deputy Chairpersons and a commission member, all of who were very excited by the new office.
The Chairperson has no control over the office of the Chief of Staff or the Presidency and clearly cannot obtain the permission of the Commission if a new office is allocated to the Commission.
The current offices have major structural defects, significant parts of the roof are collapsing, significant leakages in most offices, damp and mouldy walls, electrical defects have been discovered and pointed out by the Fire Service for urgent attention (please see ‘CO7A’ attached), the building lacks disability access, is decrepit and outdated, requiring extensive work and expense to make it habitable and reflective of the office of the Electoral Commission.
The building houses precious lives of staff of the Commission and sensitive national assets such as the largest database of Ghanaians currently in the country.
The current office space is not suitable by any standards.
With regard to the contract for partitioning of the 8-floor office building, the procurement laws were scrupulously followed.
A copy of the Tender evaluation report is attached and marked ‘CO7B’. The scope of the contract included glazed aluminum partitions for all 8 floors, plumbing and sanitary installations, ventilation/air conditioning installations, electrical installations, servicing of the lifts, demolitions, masonry works and painting amongst others. Directors of the Commission at the head office (Finance, HR, IT and Electoral Services), and an external consultant were members of the evaluation panel.
The Chairperson of the Commission was not a member of the tender evaluation panel.
The bid submitted by Inocon Limited was the lowest of the three bids and was recommended to the Chairperson for approval.
The Chairperson of the Commission is not and has never been a member of the tender evaluation committee and cannot therefore; influence the award of the contract.
Indeed, Mrs. Osei was not even present in the ETC meeting where tenders were opened for the partitioning contract (please see document marked ‘CO7C’).
The Chairperson is the only one authorised by the policies of the Commission to sign contracts (copy of policy attached and marked ‘CO7D’).
In any case, for the said contract that is allegedly unknown to the Commission, payment was approved and paid by the Deputy Chairperson CS without the knowledge and authorization of the Chairperson.
There is no requirement in law or in policy, for the Chairperson to seek the approval of the Commission for the execution of any contracts. Evidence of any law or policy requiring this approval should as a matter of law, be presented by the petitioners.
An investigation into the processes for award of the contract and a value for money assessment would be welcome as it would be based on law and policies and not motivated by ill will and pettiness.
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