The Chamber of Accounts detects little control in the emergency contracts of the Junta de Andalucía

The Chamber of Accounts, the body that oversees public money, chaired by Carmen Núñez, has detected little control by the Junta de Andalucía over emergency contracts, those that the administration can execute when it has to “act immediately to cause of catastrophic events, situations that pose serious danger or needs that affect national defense”, according to the Public Sector Contracts Law.

In these cases, governments can resort to a very agile route, with hardly any processing, to resolve the issues, as happened during the pandemic, when in 2020 alone, the Government of Juanma Moreno spent 980 million euros on more than 17,000 contracts, according to the Chamber.

This exceptional procedure has not only been used during the coronavirus crisis. In the years before the pandemic, the Junta de Andalucía used it on numerous occasions. According to the data available in the Registry of Contracts of the Junta de Andalucía, during the 2018 and 2019 financial years, the Departments and Administrative Agencies of the Junta de Andalucía processed 182 actions through the emergency route for a total amount of 86.9 million euros . Of these, 97 (53.29%) were processed in 2018 for 43.1 million (49.66%) and 85 (46.70%) in 2019 for 43.7 million (50.33%).

These, those of 2018, the last year of the PSOE Government, and 2019, the first year of the Government of Juanma Moreno, are the contracts that the Andalusian Chamber of Accounts has already analyzed in a report published this week in the BOJA. In addition, the Chamber also reviews the contracts drawn up during the pandemic, but for now, the Chamber has not made its final conclusions public.

The largest investment during 2018 and 2019 was carried out in the works destined to the conditioning of the roads of different provinces of Andalusia “with the aim of keeping them in optimal road safety conditions and correcting the effects produced by atmospheric phenomena”, it is collected in the report.

“It is followed quantitatively by the actions aimed at the protection of unaccompanied immigrant minors arriving on the coasts and ports of the Autonomous Community” in 2018. In third place, “the reconstruction works of the hydraulic infrastructures in different geographical areas are located before the damages caused by meteorological phenomena for the recovery of the security conditions and functionality of the same”.

Breaches

The Chamber of Accounts detects up to 17 “significant legal breaches” -especially in the Ministry of Development throughout the year 2019- in an analysis in which a relevant sample of total spending was audited: 46 emergency actions and 101 contracts , which have a total amount of 47.2 million. The selection is representative of 55.49% of the total number of files.

Some of them are formal breaches, such as the delay in communicating information to the Chamber and the sending of incomplete information, which reveal lack of control. Others are Like this, except in those processed by the Andalusian Health Service, “in most of the files, no documentary evidence has been obtained that the contracting authority has verified, prior to the order to start the service, the capacity of the contractor, its solvency and not being involved in any of the prohibitions to contract indicated” in the Contract Law: “These conditions of aptitude are requirements without which no contract can be concluded”.

There are other non-compliances that are also serious, such as the abuse of this contracting modality: “In 39.13% of the files audited, emergency processing has been used to cover needs that could be considered urgent, but it is not proven that they have arisen from events catastrophic, of situations that suppose serious danger, or that affect the national defense, not justifying therefore the concurrence of the restrictive assumptions foreseen in the law”. In addition, “in 50% of the cases analyzed it is not justified that it would not have been possible to remedy the damage using other procedures less restrictive of competition”.

The Chamber also detects that in some cases what the law allows for this procedure has been exceeded: “In 32.60% of the files it is not sufficiently justified that the emergency processing was limited to what is strictly essential […] to alleviate or avoid the damages derived from the catastrophic event that occurred. Some of them could even be used to modernize or improve installations and infrastructures in need of ordinary maintenance”. This is something that the Contract Law expressly prohibits: “The other services that are necessary to complete the action undertaken by the Administration and that are not of an emergency nature will be contracted in accordance with the ordinary procedure”.

The Chamber also includes in its report that 36.95% of the audited emergency actions are due “to a need that was foreseeable and did not occur”. In this way, “the use of emergency processing responded more to the lack of diligent planning or programming.”

The report gives a direct touch to the Ministry of Public Works: “19.56% of the files include benefits in the object of these contracts that do not contemplate a certain, determined and concrete fact that has a place in the factual assumptions contemplated” in the Law of Contracts “nor do they fit into the concept of immediacy” […] “All of these files have been processed during 2019 by the Ministry of Development, Infrastructure and Territorial Planning”.

There is also a lack of transparency, because in 89.10% of the contracts the requirement “to publish in the contracting party’s profile, within a period not exceeding 15 days, the award and formalization of the contracts” is not met.

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