MONDAY, JAN. 16: New laws to crack down on corruption were today (Monday) announced by Premier Paula Cox.

Contractors who try to get inside information from Civil Servants on bids for business will have committed a criminal offence under new good governance laws.

Whistle blower protection will also be extended to cover contractors, vendors, part-time and temporary staff and anyone else who becomes aware of wrong-doing.

Ms Cox said bidders for contracts will be asked to sign a document by the new Office of Project Management and Procurement certifying they have not tampered with the tender amount as a result of agreements with anyone else.

They will also be asked to confirm that they have not had any information not given to any other bidders, that they have not tried to fix the price to gain advantage or offered direct or indirect bribes to anyone involved the tender process.

Ms Cox said: “If a bidder is found to be involved in such a scheme, there will be strong sanctions. In the future, once the bill has been passed, the bidder would also be guilty of an offence.”

She added that, in addition, the public could “see people that are blacklisted” as a result of improper behaviour in relation to bidding for contracts.

The new legislation is likely to go before Parliament in the next session.

Ms Cox added that a new evaluation process for would boost the chances of smaller businesses picking up Government contracts.

Ms Cox said that cost was 70 per cent of the weighting in the previous tendering process — which favoured larger companies.

But she added that the new process means that 50 per cent of the weighting process would cover the bidder’s qualifications and experience and the resources to deliver on time, as well as having good references and a track record in health and safety.

A total of 30 per cent of the weighting will go towards the tender price, a firm’s financial position and whether they are in arrears for government taxes like social insurance.

A total of 20 per cent of the weighting will be allocated to consideration of the number of Bermudian staff employed and commitment to training and development of local people.

She added that any firm who had never put in bids for Government work before would not be penalised, but assessed on references, while new companies would get an average point scoring to allow them to build up a record.

Ms Cox said: “The initiative to provide opportunities to small contractors has provided welcome relief to small Bermudian business.”