Megafirm under scrutiny in defence procurement probe

Update, 20 January 2009: Latest Age article here. The full-pay sick leave, which has risen to ‘up to $430,000’, has come to an end, as has the relationship between the lawyer and the Department of Defence. But no resolution on the issues of interest to this blog.

Update, 25 August 2008: The Age article here. The Department has paid the lawyer $360,000 in sick pay.

Update, 20 July 2008: Canberra Times article here. The Department of Defence has admitted breaching its own procedures when, through the agency of the solicitor, who’s still on sickleave, it awarded lucrative contracts to firms with which the lawyer had past associations.

Update: 31 May 2007: latest Age article here. She’s still on paid sick leave.

Update: 14 July 2007: latest Age article here.

Update: 10 April 2007: latest Age article here.

Original post: A Department of Defence lawyer — legal counsel to the Defence Materiel Organsiation which has an annual expenditure of $9 billion — is on extended sick leave after scrutiny focused on her contracts with a megafirm where she is believed to have worked in a past life. The firm had $3.5 million of the Department of Defence / DMO work in 2005 and 2006 “without competition” according to The Age, up from $20,000 in 2004, the year of her October appointment as DMO general counsel.

Her bit of the DMO awarded $860,000 worth of contracts to another firm in the US — Shaw Pittman — without tender despite an adverse auditor-general’s inquiry into the earlier tender process for advice on the Federal Government’s privatisation of IT services won by Shaw Pittman despite its price being almost half as much again as its closest competitor. According to The Age, that cost the taxpayer no less than $16 million. The whole affair is summarised here (from p. 36 onwards).

The woman’s role was “reallocated” in September last year so as no longer to include “management of legal, procurement and financial investigation services”.

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