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October 07 2013

| from : Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal

A City of Integrity


1. The Inspector General: a shield against corruption and collusion

The Inspector General is essential to ensure integrity within the city administration. Many of the witnesses at the Charbonneau Commission lamented the absence of someone with the authority to investigate the irregularities they could see occurring. Even the City’s auditor was powerless to deal with the situations described in his reports.

The Auditor General has a mandate to audit the accounts and affairs of the City, and reports on the findings of his audit to City Council, but he has no coercive power. The Controller General is appointed by the City Manager and therefore answers to him, but he doesn’t have any coercive power either; his mandate is limited to "Ensuring the existence and effectiveness of controls needed for sound management and use of public funds". He cannot investigate his "master", the City Manager.

COMMITMENT Create the position of Inspector General, an independent officer who reports to City Council, with real powers of investigation and enforcement at City Hall: 

● The Inspector General would be invested with the necessary powers to investigate and stop any project identified as problematic or fraudulent, and could arbitrate any contingency-related dispute between the City and a supplier without causing project delays;

● The whistleblowing hotline in the General Controller’s office would be transferred to the Inspector General’s office to allow any employee, supplier or third party to anonymously report any questionable act.

2. Restore confidence at City Hall through greater transparency

The main challenge of the new administration is to continue to rebuild trust among Montrealers, elected officials and the public service. Much has already been done, but we must break the culture of secrecy within the administration itself and replace it with a culture of greater transparency and participation, by encouraging citizens, elected officials and City employees to get more involved in municipal affairs.

COMMITMENT Create a culture of transparency:

● Incorporate the principles of open data for information sharing and disclosure in a "smart" city, across all department offices;

● Develop a one-stop, user-friendly interface where employees and elected officials can systematically access information on previous contracts, including such things as a bidder’s price-quality record, level of contingency use, cost overruns and record for delivering projects on schedule;

● Ensure that all executive summaries indicate whether a department official met with a lobbyist;

● Broadcast borough council meetings on the internet and make borough planning advisory committee (PAC) meetings public.

COMMITMENT Bring in best practices for good governance:

● Eliminate the model of systematic compensation of professional firms (architects and consulting engineers) at a percentage of the contract value and instead pay them at an hourly or fixed rate for services rendered, in order to avoid conflicts of interest;

● Eliminate the potential for a single professional firm (or an affiliated company) to prepare plans and specifications, supervise site construction and approve project contingencies without any internal checks and balances;

● Standardize and set guidelines for the use of contingencies in the various contract award documents.

COMMITMENT Make Montréal a more efficient, effective, consistent city 

The citizens of Montreal do not want another debate about structure; they want an efficient administration that delivers. Without changing the City’s structure (the Quebec government’s responsibility), we must find a balance between the boroughs and City Hall. We must ensure that every citizen can access local front-line services, regardless of their borough.

● Foster coherent links between the powers and responsibilities of the boroughs and City Hall;

● Standardize methods and practices between City Hall and the boroughs;

● Create a dialogue among the various stakeholders (public, parapublic and private) to recommend best governance practices for the contract tendering and awarding process at City Hall;

● Establish a contingency approval office independent of project managers/site supervisors. A contractor should not be able to hold the City hostage over contingencies by threatening to stop work.

3. The tools to manage a city

By law, municipalities are currently required to award a project to the lowest bidder. This practice has led to many abuses (millions of dollars paid in surcharges) and can facilitate and even encourage collusion. It is unthinkable that this rule should apply to Montreal, the second biggest awarder of contracts in the province (after the Quebec government), in the same way that it applies to the smallest municipality in Quebec.

COMMITMENT To no longer be subject to the lowest-bidder rule:

● Demand that the Quebec government amend the Cities and Towns Act so that Montreal is no longer bound by the lowest-bidder rule (like the Quebec government);

● Meanwhile, use any legal means available to get the best value for money, including:

- changing the bidding process to create a qualification and then allowing a “Dutch auction” (lowest-price auction) system to get the best price;

- increasing the use of the double envelope tender system, systematically negotiating better prices with a single qualified bidder and evaluating the quality of bidders’ work with a view to future bids.

4. Foster a culture of accountability and supervise the municipal public service better

The report of the advisory committee on the tendering and awarding of municipal contracts  in Montreal (Leonard report) and the City’s Auditor General have both pointed to the lack of supervision of the municipal public service and the lack of an accountability mechanism. Without such a mechanism, it is difficult for elected officials to know what is really going on in the public service.

COMMITMENT Establish an accountability mechanism:

● The accountability process, which has three steps (description of goals, analysis of results and evaluation of the quality of management) should be the subject of a regulation that specifies the steps to be followed and instructions for reporting. A clear policy framework would tell officials what is expected of them;

● Require departments to publicly release an annual report for each contract: level of contingency use (the "extras"), cost overruns and on-time project delivery record;

● Broaden the mandate of the Contract Review Committee to allow it to review borough contracts that meet the Committee’s current assessment criteria.

COMMITMENT Revitalize the public administration and introduce a rotation system for senior officials:

● Increase hiring in the public service to increase internal expertise and counter the systematic use of subcontracting

● Provide departments with special training to enable them to detect collusion systems;

● Introduce rotations for certain senior positions so that no-one holds the same responsibilities for more than two years.


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