By ALEX MCCUAIG, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Medicine Hat chief administrator insists there is no conflict in the process involving Orka Management Group staff being involved in the lead up to a request for proposals being issued for Invest Medicine Hat.

But the standard conflict of interest definitions used in city procurement packages were altered in the RFP bid involving Invest Medicine Hat.

The clause usually used by the city in procurement packages defines a conflict of interest when, “the proponent has an unfair advantage or engages in conduct, directly or indirectly, that may give it an unfair advantage.”

It additionally states a conflict includes when the bidder has, “access to confidential information of the City in preparation of its proposal that is not available to other proponents.”

The RFP package involving IMH did not include those standard definitions when issued.

On the surface, if the standard definition was included, it would have likely disqualified Orka, as that company’s ownership and all of its listed staff are city employees working for IMH.

According to Medicine Hat CAO Bob Nicolay, Orka/IMH staff were involved in meetings leading up to council’s decision in May to launch the RFP process.

“Yes, they would have been involved in those discussions,” he said, adding they recused themselves from development of the RFP as well as the evaluation of bids.According to the IMH RFP package, such involvement would also disqualify Orka.

Additionally, Orka/IMH staff, “communicating with any person with a view to influencing preferred treatment in the RFP process,” could result in Orka being disqualified, according to the conflict of interest definition in the IMH bid package.

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