Decision : Not upheld
Decision date : 25 Mar 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr X complains the Council has not dealt properly with the tendering process for a contract. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint further because it would have been reasonable for Mr X to take the matter to court.
- The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr X, complains the Council has not dealt properly with a contract because of complaints he previously made about Council officers. Mr X says he has been unfairly prevented from being considered for the work and has suffered distress and lost work.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have spoken to Mr X about his complaint and considered the information he has provided to the Ombudsman. I have also considered the Council’s response to his complaint and its response to my enquiries.
- Mr X and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.
What I found
- Mr X tendered for a contract for maintenance services for the Council in 2019. He and several other businesses submitted bids. Mr X’s bid was not considered because he did not provide all the tendering documents required. The Council awarded the contract to another company.
- Mr X complains the process was not fair and impartial and suggests this was due to previous issues he raised regarding the officers overseeing the tender process. Mr X complained to the Council and it conducted a whistle-blowing investigation into Mr X’s concerns. Mr X complained to the Ombudsman after the Council completed its whistle-blowing investigation.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint further. Tenders for contracts above a certain size are subject to the Public Contracts Regulations (PCR) 2015. The contract that Mr X placed a bid for was subject to the regulations. Where tenders are subject to these regulations, companies have the right to challenge the outcome in court. This process covers the concerns Mr X had with the process in this case and due to the amount of money involved it would have been reasonable for Mr X to take legal action if he felt the Council had not conducted the tender properly.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint further. This is because it would have been reasonable for Mr X to challenge the Council’s decision at court.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman