U of G spent $600K to refresh school’s branding, without taking any competitive bids
Tina Yazdani, CTV Kitchener
Published Wednesday, March 7, 2018 6:36PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 7, 2018 6:44PM EST
CTV News has obtained documents that reveal The University of Guelph awarded a communications company more than half a million dollars in contracts without taking any competitive bids as per provincial requirements.
The money went to Tenzing Communications to ‘refresh’ the school’s branding.
The school had used Tenzing before, in 2016 for a communications audit. In that case the school followed the request for proposal (RFP) purchasing rules.
The school did not allow bids for the new work, awarding nearly $600,000 in contracts to Tenzing Communications.
Seven videos produced, shot and edited by Tenzing Communications last year cost the school more than $140,000.
CTV News spoke to several production companies who said they could have done the same work for a lot less. They said while the videos looked professional and well-produced, anything north of $100,000 is excessive.
The videos were part of a much larger deal with Tenzing which included revamping the university's website, refreshing branding, and re-designing the school's logo.
No one from the University of Guelph would provide an on-camera interview but in a statement they say their rationale for working with Tenzing followed appropriate procurement and purchasing practices and all services were documented.
CTV obtained the contract documents that stated:
"U of G has been working with Tenzing over the last several months to complete a communications audit as per a rfp in which Tenzing was the successful vendor. This next phase of developing a strategic communications plan is critical for U of G, and Tenzing is the one vendor perfectly positioned to work with us since their recent work here."
Taxpayers and the province were the ones who covered the costs.
“It's really inappropriate for them to be in violation of the rules that exist to protect taxpayer money," said Christine Van Geyn with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
"We deserve transparency. Whether it's from the province or from the institution about why they didn't follow rules around tendering if those rules weren't followed. Because this is our money, this is taxpayer money," she added.
The province will not say whether the university broke the rules, their statement noting:
"Ultimately, the University of Guelph is accountable for following the rules of the broader public sector procurement directive.and that..competitive procurement is mandatory for any procurement over $100,000.”
CTV News reached out to Tenzing Communications who chose not to comment on this matter.