December 03, 2013

PCs playing political games with provincial registries

EDMONTON, AB (December 3, 2013): Service Alberta Minister Manmeet Bhullar should  get rid of unfair new regulation introduced in the tendering process for new provincial registries that leaves the process open to abuse and political favourtism, Wildrose Service Alberta Critic Rod Fox said today.

 In addition to a customary $100,000 start-up fee, parties interested in opening a registry office in their communities are encouraged to provide a supplemental “Agency Opportunity Offer” (AOO). The AOO is an additional cash payment submitted by prospective registry owners to government in order secure a successful application. The problematic section of the government’s RFP to prospects reads as follows, “The proponent must propose a one-time payment in the form of an Agency Opportunity Offer (AOO) for this business opportunity – The AOO is a dollar amount (CAD) that is determined by the Proponent, and is distinct from the start-up fee ... The Proponent submitting the highest AOO in its Proposal compared to all other Proposals and meeting the minimum scoring for the evaluation of the Business Plan as outlined in section 5.3 will be considered the successful applicant.” Fox called the AOO requirement a voluntary shakedown that could leave the door open to manipulation and abuse. “This is not how we do business in Alberta,” Fox said. “Once a candidate passes the initial gamut of requirements, and puts up his or her $100,000 start-up fee, he or she should get fair and equal consideration for registry ownership. If the government wanted to receive the most money, they should just hold an open and competitive bid process. This secret, supplemental payment is  extremely problematic and leaves the door wide open to political intereference.” Wildrose Chestermere-Rocky View MLA Bruce McAllister said the AOO requirement is unfair to communities like his who need a local registry office. “My constituents have rightly deserved a registry office for years,” McAllister said. “It was bad enough we had to guilt the government into doing the right thing; now they’re dangling registry ownership over our heads with unfair tendering processes. Applicants should be judged on whether or not they can provide the service, not on how deep their pockets are.” McAllister called for a public tendering process, to ensure the PC government isn’t reverting to its old habit of awarding contracts to friends and family.


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