Monday, June 5

The Court of Auditors ensures that 25% of the emergency ministerial contracts due to Covid were closed verbally

The Court of Auditors has detected that one in four emergency contracts signed by the ministries during the Covid-19 pandemic were closed verbally and were not documented in writing, for which reason it has recommended that for the future the written processing of this type of exceptional contracting.

This is stated in the Inspection Report of the emergency contracts entered into in 2020 for the management of the health crisis situation caused by Covid-19 by the Ministries of the State Political-Administrative Area and its autonomous bodies.

This is the fourth of the total of eight that the inspector plans to carry out on emergency contracting in the pandemic in different areas of the public sector.

In this case, it affects the contracts made by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Education, Science, Universities, Culture, Interior; Justice; Presidency, Equality and Territorial Policy, as well as its attached autonomous bodies.

Little negotiation capacity

For auditing, 100 contracts were selected from the 347 notifications, for an amount of 48.2 million euros, which represents 75% of the total amount of contracts of this type (64.2 million euros).

As in its previous reports, the body chaired by Enriqueta Chicano acknowledges that public managers faced a sudden reality, they had to acquire hygienic-sanitary products that were scarce in the market and, therefore, to accept prices with no or very little real possibility of negotiation and contracting with suppliers who also faced logistical difficulties in an unstructured market.

The court concludes that the object of the emergency contracts, except in four cases, was directly or indirectly linked to the adoption of measures to protect against the spread of Covid-19. That is, in “96% of the cases the corresponding cause-effect relationship was maintained”.

Deficiencies in the adjudication

In addition, it has detected “a series of exceptional deficiencies in the award and in the previous actions”. For example, one agency improperly channeled the use of this type of procedure through a single generic emergency declaration instead of doing it individually.

In its recommendations, the court emphasizes the need to record individually in each contract the reasons that justify resorting to emergency processing, as well as those that prevent contracting through other procedures that are less restrictive of competition to deal with to unforeseen need.

They have also found “some breaches of the necessary communication both to the Council of Ministers and to the Delegated Intervention”, which, according to the court “constitute the basis of the few formalities that the Contract Law requires in this type of procedure”.

At this point, the auditor recalls that in the emergency processing the rule exempts “from the obligation to form a contracting file and allows contracting verbally”, a formula that was used in 24% of the contracts analyzed, of which no There was written documentation. Although it is a formula contemplated in the law, the court has requested that the written procedure be sought.

The inspector takes charge of the difficulty that there was then to verify the capacity and solvency of the possible contractors and for that reason he is pleased that in 32% of the contracts examined there were verifications.

However, it warns that “the omission of the actions legally foreseen for the preparation, award and formalization of the contracts, in particular the verification of the aptitude requirements of the successful bidder, should be limited to those contracts whose object is incompatible with the immediate attention of the raised emergency”.