Auditors criticise Dome procedures

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The Independent Online
The company in charge of the Millennium Exhibition broke the rules when it let contracts for planning, marketing and sponsorship, according to an internal auditors' report.

KPMG found that in one case work had started before a legally binding contract was in place. In others, there was insufficient evidence that contracts had been let on a competitive basis or with clear specifications. Sir John Bourn, the Comptroller and Auditor General, has said in a report to Parliament that he finds the processes used "unsatisfactory".

The report, published at Westminster yesterday, relates to the period from October to December 1996, before the new government and the New Millennium Experience Company took over. It says that in the few months after Barry Hartop took over as chief executive of Millennium Central, the company in charge at the time, there were fears about the way contracts were being let.

KPMG were asked to look at the main 15 contracts, amounting to some pounds 500,000. The auditors found that only three followed the procurement procedures agreed with the Millennium Commission.

A separate report by the National Audit Office found that a number of payments made at around the same time were irregular, although not sufficiently serious to justify further action.

Eric Sorensen, the chief executive of the Millennium Commission, said the errors had mainly been technical ones of documentation, and he was confident that the problems had now been cleared up. "The report also makes clear there is no fraud or corruption and things were put right at the time," he said.

- Fran Abrams

Political Correspondent

Andrew Marr, page 19

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