Did McKenzie mislead the Public Accounts Committee?

UTV last night revealed that Laurence McKenzie (ie, not the sacked Board) had similar procurement problems at NIE:

London consultants PKF were asked by the Utility Regulator to investigate the failings. PKF examined just 12 projects commissioned by NIE over a three-year period ending last January.

Further they note (PKF Report) that under MacKenzie “Competitive tendering is the exception rather than the norm” in inside NIE.

And yet in a direct answer to Dawn Purvis at the last meeting of the PAC:

Ms Purvis:

Were there any procurement failures when you were the head of Northern Ireland Electricity?

Mr MacKenzie:

Not that I recall.

Hmmm… So the CEO of NI Water cannot recall the fact (this Letter from NIE plc 30.6.09 has the name of the person acknowledging the breaches redacted for a reason known only to the Utilities Regulator how released it under FOI) that NIE had procurement breaches of precisely the same order and degree as those he proposed the Board be sacked at NI Water?

Another economy with the truth from Mr MacKenzie, and, we suspect it must now be dawing on those members of the PAC wh0 take the trouble to read the evidence now pouring into them, not the only one.

Here’s what he told Mitchel McLaughlin on 1st July:

Mr MacKenzie:

I say that coming from an environment where there had been robust controls and where procurement was taken seriously and was approved at the appropriate level. Therefore, I believe that the culture in the company was that it believed that it had been freed of its shackles.

Aye, right Mr MacKenzie. How do you justify that statement under the terms of the PKF report?

Now, as we’ve seen, the information available to the PAC before the summer was at best partial and incomplete. But it should not be lost even on the slowest of their members, that Mr MacKenzie was either not open nor honest in his responses to their questions, or he had no idea of what was going on under his nose at NIE…

Either way he has some serious questions to answer..

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty