Minister denies having bent the rules in hiring former Tory candidate as a consultant
Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons filed an access to information request Thursday for a copy of the report written by former auditor general and failed Tory candidate John Noseworthy.
The report has been a source of controversy this week, since The Telegram first reported that Noseworthy delivered it in late December at a total cost of $148,960.
He was paid $98/hour to do the work.
Parsons wrote a letter to Advanced Education and Skills Minister Joan Shea, formally making a request for the document.
Parsons pointedly reminded the government it is obligated under legislation to “make every reasonable effort to respond to a request in writing within 30 days after receiving it.”
The letter and the access to information form were hand-delivered by a Liberal staffer to the Department of Advanced Education and Skills Thursday.
In the letter, Parsons also reminded Shea that in 2003, the Progressive Conservative party, led by Danny Williams, promised to “release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it.”
Parsons said he’s frustrated because the government has had the report since the week before Christmas. It is still technically in “draft” form, because Shea was tied up that week with the Muskrat Falls filibuster in the House of Assembly, and hasn’t had a chance to receive the formal presentation from Noseworthy that accompanies the report.
Noseworthy was the auditor general from 2002 until the summer of 2011, when he resigned and ran for the PC party as a candidate in the fall general election.
Five months after he failed to win the district of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, he was picked by Shea to do a “business development project” — to examine the workings of the newly formed Department of Advanced Education and Skills in order to make it run more smoothly and cohesively.
Contrary to the Treasury Board guidelines for hiring external consultants, the government did not make a public request for proposals, nor did it invite competent consultants to submit competing proposals.
The Department of Advanced Education and Skills did not violate the Treasury Board guidelines; under a different section of the document, it says, “if any proposed consulting work does not meet these requirements, it is to be referred to Treasury Board for consideration.”
Noseworthy’s contract was referred to the Treasury Board and was approved, so the government is not in violation of the policy, even though it did not follow the accepted process laid out in the guidelines.
Shea seemed to take umbrage with The Telegram’s characterization in Thursday’s paper that her department “bent the rules” to hire Noseworthy.
Shea sent out a news release accusing The Telegram of printing “misinformation.”
Shea said in the news release, “As a former auditor general, John Noseworthy is a uniquely qualified individual and any assertion that the rules and processes concerning his hiring as a consultant were not followed is completely wrong.”
The Telegram requested a followup interview with Shea to clarify her comments, but was refused.