Lucrative contracts awarded by the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) to two consultancy companies headed up by a mountaineer have been called into question by the Canberra Liberals.
- The Canberra Liberals say there is no transparency as to what was delivered through the multi-million-dollar contracts
- Nearly $8.5 million was awarded to Think Garden and Redrogue Nominees, both of which are run by Patrick Hollingworth
- The CIT says a recent $5 million contract was awarded to Mr Hollingworth’s company to “guide and support CIT through a time of unprecedented change and opportunity”
Since 2018, CIT has awarded four contracts, worth almost $8.5 million, to two companies, Think Garden and Redrogue Nominees.
Patrick Hollingworth runs both entities and on his personal website describes himself as a “complexity and systems thinker”, who has also written a book, “climbed a few mountains” and “sometimes speaks at conferences”.
According to the CIT’s tenders, the contracts sought to provide “strategic guidance and mentoring services to executives and staff” as well as “design structures and elements that enable greater coordination of analysis and decision making in relation to products, offerings and services”.
The latest contract for services, signed with Think Garden in March, was worth $5 million, with the same company being awarded a $1.7 million contract in April 2020.
In 2018 and then again in 2021, Mr Hollingworth’s other company, Redrogue Nominees, was also awarded contracts for $1.22 million and $512,000 respectively.
In a statement, CIT said Think Garden was awarded the latest $5 million contract because the company “offered the best value for money outcome” for the institute.
But the Canberra Liberals have questioned whether all of the contracts were the best use of public money by the ACT government.
Contracts are ‘shrouded in secrecy’: Opposition Leader
In a statement to the ABC, ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee questioned the transparency of the services being delivered by the contractors.
“The contracts were all awarded to the same person, and linked entities, primarily to provide mentoring to the CIT CEO,” Ms Lee said.
“There is very little publicly available information to indicate what services were delivered under these contracts and there is no transparency about what Canberrans have received.”
Ms Lee said Canberrans deserved to know what they were paying for.
She said the ACT Education Minister had serious questions to answer.
Ms Lee has previously been critical of the ACT government’s procurement process, calling for all procurements over the past five years to be audited.
Successful tenderer represented ‘best value for money’ for $5m contract
In a statement to the ABC, a CIT spokesman said the purpose of the latest $5 million contract was to “guide and support CIT through a time of unprecedented change and opportunity”.
The spokesman said the contract aimed to “progress the evolution of its complex, adaptive systems-informed approach to CIT’s transformation, from its initial exploration, designing and testing phases to a wider systemic implementation”.
“CIT envisions this will occur through the continued acquisition and embedding of knowledge, tools, activities, practices, and structures that will ensure CIT can function as a system that learns,” he said.
The institute said it evaluated all responses to the tender and decided to award the contract to Think Garden.
“The evaluation completed by CIT determined that the successful tenderer offered the best value for money outcome to CIT,” he said.
The ABC has contacted Mr Hollingworth for comment.
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