17 Mar 2017

Call to investigate $1.5m of govt contracts

6:29 am on 17 March 2017

The Auditor-General has been asked to investigate contracts worth $1.5 million for a media and education campaign about family violence in Pacific Island communities.

Domestic violence is an enduring problem in many Pacific Island states.

Domestic violence is an enduring problem in many Pacific Island states. Photo: 123rf

The Ministry of Social Development has already admitted that Pacific Media Network (PMN) failed to meet the standard expected of it.

The campaign was called Pasefika Proud and documents show the ministry questioning PMN about budget blow-outs and where the money had gone.

In one email, a ministry staff member accuses PMN of not knowing where the money went or how it planned on spending it.

The company also broke the terms of the agreement by sub-contracting to a consulting firm SV8.

In one document, the ministry said it was concerned money was being spent on external consultants when it could been invested in Pacific communities.

It ordered SV8 not to tell people that it was working for Pasefika Proud as it "was not a good look" and would "not go down well".

There are also questions about how that consulting company spent the money.

In another document, the ministry said SV8 got $32,000 but the expenditure report showed only $17,000 was used.

PMN said the money went back into another budget, but it was unclear whether the ministry was satisfied with this response.

Questions were also raised about why the campaign was sponsoring "Miss Samoa" when the ministry made it clear that it didn't want this to happen.

But despite MSD saying it was consistently let down by PMN and unhappy with its communication the contract was renewed.

New Zealand First has now called for the Auditor-General to investigate.

In a statement, the Ministry of Social Development said that while overall PMN delivered on the contract, some of its actions were not up to the standards and went outside the strict terms of the contract.

It said it provided closer monitoring once the problems were identified.

That contracts ran from 2012 to 2016.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs