Letter: Wanting transparency and fairness

To the Editor:

Transparency, Fairness, and Local Government

In Canada, there is a demand from citizens to ensure transparency, fairness, and accountability for public funds. With several high-profile cases of political cronyism, backroom deals, and corporate favouritism at the provincial and federal government levels, there is a push back from Canadians for change. These types of activities don’t just happen in the far and away world of provincial and federal politics. They exist in our own backyard—at the local level.

At the local level political nepotism, secret deals, and favouritism may not be as clear but they exist in a more innocuous form. Instead, it can be under the auspices of community building, supporting local agencies, advancing local expertise, or some other form of community altruism. Regardless of the form, the function is the same: the process for fair and transparent awarding of contracts is overlooked or violated. Whatever the reason, it is imperative that public funds be awarded based on merit of qualification, transparency of competition, and fairness in the selection process.

These elements of merit, transparency, and fairness are based on the foundation of public accountability and responsibility. The selection process requires an element of competition, competency, and openness to ensure the maximum value for public funding. To achieve this, there are multiple approaches. The local government can use the following processes: Request for Proposals, Request for Expression of Interest, Invitation to Quote, Invitation to Tender, and/or a Statement of Qualifications. Each of these approaches allows for the selection process to provide an element of meritocracy, transparency, and fairness. It also ensures that the local government protects itself from any wrongdoing or perceived misconduct. It is a system designed to protect the integrity of the process.

What if the process fails? At the federal and provincial level, the Auditor General and an Ethics Commission provide ongoing supervision and investigation. At the local level, this is left up to the citizens of the community. If there is a question of a lack of transparency or fairness an appeal and application for review can be submitted to the B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson at www.bcombudsperson.ca.

James Umpherson

Integrated Economic Solutions Inc.

Golden, B.C.

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