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Poor records hamper probe into practices on roads contract

Poor record keeping has hampered an investigation into allegations of improper practices on a Scottish roads maintenance contract.

A report published by Audit Scotland into practices at Perth & Kinross Council relating to its partnership with contractor Tayside Contracts found a number of failings that left the public sector watchdog “unable to provide any assurance” that quantities and values were not being manipulated.

Audit Scotland received a number of pieces of correspondence in relation to allegations made against the partnership, which was delivering the council’s roads maintenance service.

Allegations included claims of alteration of quantities and values between initial measurements and final invoices.

The Audit Scotland report said: “Our audit testing found that files held were of a poor standard. In our sample one file could not be located and officers had difficulty in obtaining a number of others (providing details for different jobs initially which added to the confusion).”

However it went on to say that: “The documentation on files does not provide a clear audit trail of the decisions taken or evidence that appropriate authorisations were obtained.

“Generally, quantities and costs appear to be in line with the documentation provided, but the lack of an audit trail makes it almost impossible to detect any manipulation of the contracts and while our testing found no evidence on files to suggest that quantities and values are being manipulated, we are unable to provide any assurance that this has not occurred.”

No evidence was found to support any of the other allegations made.

Audit Scotland strongly recommended that a number of new procedures should be implemented by the council with immediate effect.

Perth & Kinross Council declined to comment on the report. Tayside Contracts has been approached for comment. The Audit Scotland investigation focused solely on practices at the council.

 

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