23 Sep 2014

Ministry defends evaluation process

5:04 pm on 23 September 2014

The Ministry of Health's lawyer says its decision to strip the Problem Gambling Foundation of most of its funding was made properly.

The foundation lost a government contract for 70 percent of its services in March this year when the Ministry of Health awarded it to the Salvation Army following a tender process.

It is challenging the decision and a three-hearing began at the High Court in Auckland yesterday.

The ministry's lawyer, Matthew Andrews, told the court today that criticism of the way it handled conflicts of interest in the decision-making panel was unwarranted.

Mr Andrews said ministry was cautious about conflicts of interest, to the point where it was too conservative.

He said because of this, one of the conflicts of interest was incorrectly assessed, and was not a true conflict.

Raw data manipulated - expert

Earlier, an expert witness for the foundation said scores used as the basis for taking away three-quarters of its funding were manipulated and the overall process was unsafe.

A senior lecturer in statistics from Auckland University, Peter Mullins, said today that errors made in the evaluation process are irredeemable. His statement was read in court by the foundation's lawyer, Mai Chen.

Mr Mullins said the more he looks at the process, the more he finds wrong with it, and there was a lot of manipulation of the raw data to arrive at the final scores.

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