Security systems have been in place at the Elmore Stoutt High School for more than 20 years, but government rarely used a tender process when selecting contractors to provide them, according to Ministry of Finance Director of Projects Dr. Drexel Glasgow.

Dr. Glasgow appeared before the Commission of Inquiry during a Friday hearing to answer questions about an affidavit he provided previously.

In the affidavit, he wrote that crime including theft, vandalism and arson at the school, coupled with concerns about poor lighting and fencing, led to a decision to implement security systems in 1998.

The same year, government hired All Island Security Services Limited to provide 24-hour security for $100,000 annually, Dr. Glasgow wrote.

In 2001, Top Priority Security was also hired to provide internal security for $11,500 monthly, he stated.

Two years later, in 2003, All Island was informed that its annual contract would end in August, continuing on a monthly basis until December, according to Dr. Glasgow.

At the time, the Ministry of Education was making arrangements for security services for the entire campus, and it invited the company to bid.

But that tender process wasn’t completed, and the company continued to work on a month-to-month basis, according to Dr. Glasgow.

COI Counsel Bilal Rawat asked Dr. Glasgow, “In terms of chronology, is [2003] the first point in time where consideration is given to tendering?”

Dr. Glasgow said that as far as he knew the answer was yes, but he could not be sure if a tender process was used in 1998.

Unsolicited proposals

In 2005, Top Priority and Vanguard Security Services submitted unsolicited proposals to provide full security services, according to Dr. Glasgow.

The principal of ESHS told later told Vanguard that its proposal didn’t meet the requirements needed, he stated.

In 2007, he noted, the school went through with a tender process and terminated contracts with both Top Priority and All Island.

Sir Gary asked questions about how much it would have cost to hire both security companies.

“That means it’s something like $230,000 a year for security services at this time?” Sir Gary asked Dr. Glasgow, who responded in the affirmative.

Out of three bidders to the 2007 tender process, only Top Priority was deemed acceptable through what Dr. Glasgow called a “fair process.”

Top Priority was awarded a two-year contract in Novem- ber 2008 for $455,550, according to the project director.

But no tender process was conducted immediately after that contract ended in 2010, according to Dr. Glasgow. Instead, the process was stalled for reasons unknown to him, and Top Priority continued its work on a month-to-month basis, he wrote.

Tender attempts

Dr. Glasgow added that a tender process got underway in 2013, but a record was lost and another tender was issued in November 2014. Two companies responded to it, including Top Priority, according to the project director.

A paper was never sent to Cabinet, however, and a re-evaluation took place after the bids were reviewed, Dr. Glasgow stated, citing concerns over cost and lack of details provided in the bids.

In 2016, there was another attempt at a tender process, but again the paper never made it to Cabinet. During this time, Top Priority continued to provide month-to-month services until 2020, Dr. Glasgow wrote.

Sir Gary noted that between January 2014 and December 2019, $2,995,100 was paid to Top Priority. Prior to that, between January 2011 and December 2012, $714,477 was paid to the company, he said.

Concerns raised

In March 2020, Premier Andrew Fahie, who is also the finance minister, raised concerns over the amount being charged and government’s ability to pay it in purchase orders, according to Dr. Glasgow.

The company continued to provide security services at both high school locations during early 2020 without receiving money, Mr. Rawat read from Dr. Glasgow’s affidavit.

Government then decided to waive tender requirements and sign a major contract with Top Priority for services until December 2020 in order to end the month-to-month payments, Dr. Glasgow wrote.

A tender process finally began in December 2020, and the documents were made available in January 2021.

Seven bids were received, and the ongoing tender process is now in compliance with procurement regulations, Dr. Glasgow said. The COI didn’t ask for more detail on that tender process.