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Canberra Today 8°/9° | Monday, July 4, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Integrity Commission to probe CIT contracts

Canberra Institute of Technology. Photo: Facebook.

THE ACT’s Integrity Commission will investigate a series of multi-million dollar contracts awarded by the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) to an individual to provide “mentoring” to the organisation’s CEO.

Skills Minister Chris Steel today (June 23) said the contracts were being investigated by the Integrity Commission following increasing pressure brought on the government by the controversy.

Since 2018 more than $8.5 million has been awarded by the CIT to Patrick Hollingworth, a “complexity and systems thinker” paid to assist in the reorganisation of the institute.

The CIT board last week said that it could not guarantee the most recent contract awarded to Mr Hollingworth, valued at almost $5 million, provided “value for money”.

The contract fell only $10 short of needing to go before the government’s procurement board.

The CIT has come under further fire this week after announcing the appointment of Kate Lundy to chair of the board, who served as deputy chair while some of the contracts in question were awarded.

Opposition leader Elizabeth Lee has welcomed the investigation, saying many Canberrans are “rightly concerned” about the contracts.

“Chris Steel has failed to be open and transparent about what he and the Chief Minister knew, when they knew and why they failed to discharge their ministerial responsibilities, allowing further contracts worth millions of taxpayer funds to be signed,” she said.

It is the first time since its inception that the Integrity Commission has publicly confirmed a decision to investigate a matter, but Integrity Commissioner Michael F Adams said it would not become standard practice.

“Recent public discourse in the media and in the ACT Legislative Assembly, which clearly pointed to the high likelihood that an investigation by the Commission would occur, and the need to take steps to ensure the integrity of this process, has made this announcement desirable,” said Mr Adams.

“It also provides an opportunity to request any person or entity with information pertaining to the Commission’s investigation report to provide their information to the Commission as soon as possible.”

Mr Adams said the public acknowledgement of the investigation did not relieve witnesses of their secrecy obligations, which include not disclosing that they have been called as a witness or required to produce documents or any information or evidence they have provided.

“I want to make it very clear to any persons who have received, or do receive, a summons to appear before the Commission and/or provide information as part of this investigation, that they must at all times adhere to the conditions of their summons, including any confidentiality requirements,” he said.

“Failure to act in accordance with the conditions of a summons is a criminal offence and may result in a period of imprisonment.”

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