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Forensic report cites challenges with performance, record management at WSC

An internal forensic report from the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) has revealed that contracts executed for desalinated water operations in the Family Islands were faced with significant challenges regarding dispute avoidance, record management and performance management.

The report, obtained by Guardian Business yesterday and dated November 30, 2013 was prepared by WSC’s technical and operations audit department and internal control and compliance division.

“The predominant areas of risks to water supply occur under conditions of failure by the contractor to produce water due to either acts of God or by significant contractual and performance disputes. There are no emergency alternate water sources or contingencies,” the report states.

The report stresses the need to preserve contractual relationships with water suppliers and thereby safeguard the supply of water to customers.

It adds that contractual safeguards proven to reduce risk include requirements for property insurance, performance bonds, plant operations and maintenance manuals, water quality assurance systems and international protocols, and familiarity of WSC staff with the basic operation of plants.

The report notes that the primary desalinated water provider on the Family Islands is a General Electric (GE) subsidiary that manages several build, own, operate (BOO) agreements using mainly GE plants.

General Electric agreements were signed with a variation or combination of the following subsidiaries: Aqua Design (Bahamas), GE Aqua Designs, Iconics, GE Water or GE Infrastructure (Aqua Design Bahamas Limited).

The report shows that the contracts were agreed to by means of a letter of acceptance or form of agreement.

However, the forensic review reveals that copies of the executed forms of agreement for Inagua, North Bimini, Abaco, San Salvador and Central Eleuthera “could not be found or confirmed to have ever existed”.

“The findings of this report were consistent with the findings from the Windsor operation review, where it was noted that the registry files proved not to be well-organized or reliable and were very difficult to retrieve,” the report states.

“This was primarily due to the registry transferring the bulk of the project files to an uncatalogued store room of banker boxes.

“The archived registry files were scattered throughout the corporation offices, pumping stations, store rooms, engineers’ and scientists’ computers and personal memory sticks.”

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