Hong Kong government temporarily suspends two consultancy firms from making bids for projects

Mott MacDonald Hong Kong and CTA Consultants found to have disclosed confidential population and employment data to outsiders, resulting in contract breach

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 March, 2017, 10:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2017, 6:12pm

Two consultancy firms – Mott MacDonald Hong Kong and CTA Consultants – have been temporarily suspended from bidding for government projects after they were found to have disclosed confidential population and employment data to outsiders.

The suspension came as the Planning Department unveiled for the first time its projections of the city’s territorial population and employment data, in which it expected a massive growth for Lantau by 2026 while projecting development in busy areas such as Central, Wan Chai, Mong Kok and Kwun Tong would stay flat.

The data release was prompted by the case of engineering giant Arup, which was found to have breached its contract after it leaked confidential internal data to a private developer involved in a Wang Chau housing project.

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It was temporarily barred late last year from bidding on government projects for three months.

On Monday, the Development Bureau confirmed the two other firms respectively violated the terms of the engineering consultancy agreements for the planning and engineering study on Kwu Tung South, and for traffic impact assessment for construction of a low-level service reservoir.

A statement from the bureau yesterday said the two companies had failed to obtain written consent from the respective departments managing the consultancy agreements before disclosing the Planning Department’s projections of population and employment data. The projections were revealed in “agreements to third parties involved in non-government development projects”.

The temporary suspension means Mott MacDonald and CTA are not allowed to make tender bids for all categories of engineering consultancy agreements, and for minor Water Supplies Department projects respectively. This will be in force for not less than two months until late May.

The Development Bureau issued a memorandum last November requesting all related departments to remind consultants they employ to comply strictly with the “confidentiality” and “conflict of interest” provisions, the statement said.

Hong Kong’s population is forecast to rise by 8 per cent to 7.83 million by 2026 from 7.24 million in 2014. The workforce is estimated to grow to four million by 2026, from about 3.76 million in 2014. The data also showed the number of residents and employees in New Territories Southwest would increase by 45 per cent and 59.6 per cent respectively to 63,150 and 28,450from 2014 to 2026. The district mainly covers Lantau island.

The Planning Department said usually the datacannot be disclosed as it covers private data in smaller zones and preliminary assumptions for development projects that are subject to change. However, a spokesman said in view of public concerns, the department decided it could be aggregated into 26 larger districts for public dissemination.