The most important cause of the irregularities related to prison workplaces was insufficient supervision of the Minister of Justice – the prosecutor general Zbigniew Ziobro – results from the control of the Supreme Audit Office.
The Supreme Audit Office (NIK) conducted an audit regarding the use of the exclusion from the application of the Public Procurement Law (PPL) by units subordinate to and supervised by the minister of justice – the prosecutor general in 2017-2020.
The amendment to the Public Procurement Law, which entered into force in 2016, was to allow organizational units subordinate to and supervised by the minister of justice – the prosecutor general, to award contracts outside the statutory regime, without the need to relate the subject of the contract to the scope of the core activity of a prison work establishment. According to the Supreme Audit Office, the amendment did not contribute to the achievement of the legislator’s goal.
The auditors of the Supreme Audit Office indicated that this practice created conditions for the purchase of goods and services at non-competitive prices and for favoring selected subcontractors. “Thus, in the opinion of the Supreme Audit Office, a risk of corruption could arise” – said the Chamber.
NIK examined the control over prison workplaces
Prison establishments used Article 4d, paragraph 1, point 8 of the Public Procurement Law. NIK believes that the loosening of the rigors of the Public Procurement Law aimed at professional activation of inmates was in practice not conducive to the increase in employment of people deprived of liberty and their rehabilitation.
The Chamber emphasized that the work of the inmates allows, inter alia, to define or maintain the social function of the prisoner after his release, has a positive effect on maintaining order in the prison, enables satisfying economic needs, including the needs of the family that the inmate has left at large, and enables him to pay off liabilities. maintenance. “In 2018 and 2019, on average, 22.9 percent of inmates worked for a fee, and in 2020 – 17.7 percent” – the Supreme Chamber of Control reported.
The data obtained by the Supreme Audit Office in the period from January 1, 2017 to September 30, 2020 for 11 prison establishments operated as state-owned enterprises showed that they received 1,295 orders for the amount of almost PLN 845 million gross.
The two largest orders in the 4d mode were received by PEPEBE from Włocławek. NIK explains that the first one concerned the construction of the seat of the North and South Prosecutor’s Offices in Sosnowiec. “Its value was PLN 26.4 million gross, of which subcontractors were provided with works worth 93.1 percent of this amount” – emphasized NIK. The second order concerned the construction of a production hall on the premises of the Sztum Correctional Facility. “Value – PLN 22.8 million gross, of which the subcontractors were provided with works worth 93 percent of this amount” – added the Chamber.
“In 2020, there was a sharp decline in 4d orders. Among others, departments of enterprises in which almost all subcontracted were used were closed” – the NIK reported.
As an example, the Chamber indicated the State Clothing Company “RAKON” in Racibórz, which in 2017-2019 received 83 orders in the 4d mode with a total gross value of PLN 46.9 million, of which it transferred orders to subcontractors with a value of 89.8 percent of this amount.
NIK on “insufficient supervision by the Minister of Justice”
The Supreme Audit Office believes that article 4d of the Public Procurement Law requires orders to be sent to prison establishments that can perform the task on their own. Redirection of orders to subcontractors should only take place in exceptional cases.
The NIK points out that the prison establishments, operated in the form of state-owned enterprises, performed only a small part of the work commissioned by the awarding entities. They mainly charged a kind of “margin” for themselves. The 4d mode was attractive for contracting authorities because it released them from the tedious and difficult tender procedure.
“Handing over or contracting subcontractors 81.7 percent of the gross value of orders directly indicates that the plants did not use subcontractors to perform the contracts, but actually handed over the execution of orders to them” – assessed the Supreme Audit Office.
The Chamber recalled that the 4d mode may be applied by the minister of justice – the prosecutor general or organizational units subordinate to him or supervised by him.
“In the opinion of the Supreme Audit Office, the most important cause of irregularities related to the use of the 4d mode was insufficient supervision of the minister of justice – the prosecutor general over subordinate and supervised units” – emphasizes the Supreme Audit Office. “In addition, the Minister of Justice did not implement effective mechanisms that would prevent companies from abusing the procedure of subcontracting contracts to other external entities” – emphasized the Supreme Audit Office.
NIK applies for changes to the law
Therefore, NIK asked the Council of Ministers to take a legislative initiative leading to an amendment to the Public Procurement Law.
Main photo source: PAP / Leszek Szymański