If any government official signs a contract for goods or services that has not been properly approved, that person will be responsible for the contract and will be subject to disciplinary action, according to a statement from acting Property and Procurement Commissioner Randolph Bennett.
Bennett said purchases or contracts that obligate the V.I. government without a written approved purchase order from him or his designee are illegal, adding that there is no provision in V.I. law or rules and regulations authorizing them.
The department’s statement cites Title 31, Chapter 23, Sections 234, 248 and 249 as forbidding the unauthorized obligation of government funds and allowing fines and even imprisonment for violators.
"Effective immediately, all departments and agencies shall cease and desist from incurring any debt to the Virgin Islands government in the absence of a fully executed contract and/or purchase order,” officials said in the statement.
“Payments for goods and services procured without the proper authorizing document will be the sole responsibility of the initiator. Failure to comply with purchasing and contracting rules, regulations and procedures will result in the imposition of strong disciplinary measures."
All departments and agencies must submit to Property and Procurement a list of all existing such contracts and requisitions entered into without proper approval, according to the statement, giving agencies until 5 p.m. Nov. 16 to comply.
For each existing improper contract, agency officials are to submit a letter of justification to Property and Procurement stating the contractor’s name, scope of work provided, total project cost and justification for providing the goods or services without proper written approval.
They are to include all corresponding invoices, and Property and Procurement said it will then forward all documents with a cover letter to the governor and the governor will forward them to the legislature for ratification.
These types of unauthorized contracts have to be ratified by the Legislature and approved before payment, the statement said. Agencies without any of this sort of contract are to submit a letter saying so.