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Maharey must sack CPIT boss

30 November 2004

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

Maharey must sack CPIT boss

National's Education spokesman, Bill English, says Christchurch Polytech must sack CEO John Scott for his gross mismanagement of the conflict of interest at the heart of the COOL-IT scandal.

"If the council doesn't sack him, Minister Steve Maharey should sack his appointments to the council" he said The Auditor-General's report into the conflict of interest, which Mr English requested in June, was released this afternoon.

"The report confirms that CPIT contractor Vicki Buck marketed COOL-IT in her capacity as the polytech's Director of Development while she was a director and shareholder in Brylton Software, the company that supplied the COOL-IT programme," says Mr English.

"Brylton Software received over $6 million of public funds from the COOL-IT course in three months. CPIT enrolled more than 18,000 people in the course but only 603 completed it - a matter subject to another government enquiry.

"The Office of the Auditor-General has found that this conflict of interest was not appropriate in a public sector agency. The Auditor-General says 'CPIT allowed Ms Buck to be put in the position which gave her the opportunity to use her CPIT-funded time, resources and position to enhance the value of her private financial interests in BSL'

"As stated in the OAG report, John Scott and his senior management team are standing by the way they handled the situation," says Mr English.

"CPIT is defying the conclusion of the Auditor-General that those decisions were wrong. The CPIT council and the Minister must back the Auditor-General."

The report found: · There was a conflict of interest. Ms Buck was put in a position which gave her the opportunity her to use her publicly funded time, resources and position to promote the interests of her private financial interests in Brylton Software. Page 9, Page 40- 42

· The existence of this conflict of interest raised "a serious management issue for CPIT". (4.36)

· CPIT did not deal with the conflict appropriately and should not have allowed Ms Buck to promote COOL-IT or sit on the committee which governed the relationship between CPIT and the software company in which she had a financial interest. (4.33, 4.38)

· Senior management failed to adequately inform the CPIT council about the conflict (6.12) and there was inadequate documentation of declarations of the conflict (4.12). Even so, the council should have more thoroughly scrutinized it. (6.16, 6.17, 6.20)

· John Scott believed it was up to him to manage the conflict and that there was nothing wrong with the situation. (6.14)

· CPIT must review its conflict of interest policies. (p11 recommendations)

"Mr Maharey must put an end to this constant buck-passing and hold CPIT accountable," says Mr English.

"They wasted $15 million of public money on a bogus course, and $6m ended up in a company in which a senior staff member had 'keen awareness and involvement' according the report.

"If the CPIT council won't bring Chief Executive John Scott to account, Maharey must hold the council itself accountable and send them packing.

"The Minister said he was waiting for the Auditor-General's report before taking action. I look forward to seeing that action, seeing someone held to account, and seeing some money returned to the public purse," says Mr English.


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