The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) has begun investigations into the award of procurement and usage of information technology (IT)-related projects of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) from 2014 to the early part of 2017.
This follows the interdiction of the GPHA’s IT Manager, Mr David Boison, who is said to have been implicated in an investigative report conducted by the authority from April to August 2017.
The interdiction letter, signed by the Acting Director-General of the authority, Mr Paul Asare Ansah, cited Mr Boison for engaging in unethical conduct by negotiating project costs upwards.
Mr Boison is also said to have certified projects as completed when some of them were actually at their initial stages or were never executed.
Part of the letter read: “We refer to the committee that investigated the procurement and the usage of IT-related projects and programmes report and wish to inform you that prima facie evidence has been established against you. You are, therefore, interdicted, effective August 14, 2017, for further investigations into the various allegations that have come up.”
Value for money
Mr Boison is alleged to have supervised the procurement of inventors, stabilisers and batteries for an integrated IT project for the authority, costing $736,666.26.
Out of the amount, 80 per cent was paid, while the suppliers presented invoices to claim the outstanding 20 per cent, when the items were never supplied and installed.
He is also said to have some questions to answer in respect of the procurement of 36 power stabilisers and batteries as part of a $275,648.29 contract awarded to Arrow Network Systems but the items were never supplied and installed, although some payments were made by the GPHA.
Mr Boison is also alleged to have inflated by $30,000 the cost of a terminal operating system (TOS) contract awarded to ZConic IT Solutions for the procurement of a Dynamix AX 2012 system which has never been utilised since it was purchased.
An e-mail correspondence from Mr Boison to the vendor, dated July 8, 2016, read: “Dear Boss, please let’s work around 170K and 30,000 for those we need to satisfy in the chain. That amount excludes withholding tax. So we should be looking at 200K, excluding VAT, to compute the total, Regards.”
According to the GPHA’s internal investigative committee report, the TOS, supported by hand-held devices which were to be used for the paperless port project, in line with a port automation drive embarked on by the authority under the immediate past Director-General, Mr Richard Anamoo, was previously approved by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) at a cost of $622,094 and was to be supplied by Aeon Ventures in November 2016.
The device, it said, was, however, procured at $201,720 from a South African firm, Junzo Investments, in August 2017, following the cancellation of the previous contract with Aeon, an indication that the contract sum was overpriced by $420,374.
The investigative report also highlighted the supply of IT accessories to the International Maritime Hospital (IMAH), a subsidiary of the GPHA, by Online Computer Solutions to the tune of $346,841.91, for which the contract sum for the supply and installation had been paid.
According to the Chairman of the Investigative Committee, Mr Charles Sackey, although the installation was to be done by the vendor, the committee, during its fact-finding mission, found that employees of the IT Department of the GPHA were engaged in the installation.
He said a Fortigate Firewall which was earlier acquired for the Takoradi Port at a cost of $83,000 was allegedly overpriced by Mr Boison by $42,815, raising the figure significantly to $125,815.
He said a real estate management which the authority did not need was also procured for $124,854 from Dynamics Netsoft Technology.
“An enterprise asset management which was also procured for $124,854 from Hofinsoft Technology of India and was never used has since expired, since the authority had no use for it,” Mr Sackey said.
The report maintained that the investigations revealed many malpractices that went into the procurement process through the use of single source procurement methods.
“Staff did not assert themselves in the various roles assigned them. Others took advantage of the weak control environment and refused to make broader consultations in the preparation of project requirements, leading to most of the contracts being irrelevant,” it suggested.
Mr Ansah, who confirmed Mr Boison’s interdiction to the Daily Graphic, indicated that the committee’s report had been referred to EOCO for further action.
According to him, Mr Boison could not convince the committee concerning many of the projects he undertook when he appeared before the five-member panel.
“As a manager, he failed to apply the necessary due diligence in the performance of his duty, a situation that further weakened the procurement chain. As the lead negotiator and executor of various IT-related projects, he should have provided expert advice for management on the utilisation of the purchases,” Mr Ansah said.