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PS-DBM chief wants 'thorough examination' of laptop acquisition for DepEd

The chief of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) is planning to launch an investigation into the P2.4 billion worth of “outdated and pricey” laptops it procured for the Department of Education (DepEd) in 2021.

“The PS-DBM, under my watch, shall fully cooperate to address the Commission on Audit's findings and recommendations regarding the procurement of P2.4 billion worth of laptops for the Department of Education in 2021,” PS-DBM Executive Director Dennis Santiago told GMA News Online on Saturday.

The COA raised concerns about the DepEd's purchase of laptops for teachers in order to implement distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, describing the purchased equipment as "pricey and outdated" as there were more affordable and better options available.

“I shall instruct a thorough examination of the cost of the items involved, as well as [their] technical specifications,” Santiago said.

“Should the records prove that there are indeed instances of non-compliance with the law and procurement rules, rest assured that we will never tolerate it,” he added.

Santiago said the PS-DBM’s mandate is to ensure that the procurement process is transparent and competitive to avoid irregularities.

In its annual audit report on the DepEd for 2021, the COA said that the purchase of the more expensive laptops than the ones on budget resulted in the procurement of fewer units, depriving over 28,000 teachers of the benefit.

"Based on the initial feedback we gathered from the auditors in the NCR and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), they stated that the delivered laptop computers by the winning bidder are too slow because the processor is .... outdated; and the price is too high based on the specifications as attached to the DepEd Memorandum," the audit report said.

It said that “per available documents, the Audit Team could not ascertain the DBM-PS' basis for adopting the unit price of P58,300. Apparently, the supposed number of laptops to be procured of 68,500 units was significantly reduced to 39,583 units which was mainly due to the huge increase [in the] estimated cost [of] P35,046 to P58,300 anchored on the DBM-PS' recommendation, which was duly accepted by the DepEd.”

State auditors said the DepEd settled and agreed with the price and technical specifications provided by PS-DBM.

In a separate statement, the DepEd stated that the price of the laptops can best be answered by PS-DBM, the procuring entity for the units.

“The Department only received the laptops from PS-DBM,” the Education Department said.

On Thursday, DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said the agency has already submitted the requirements needed by the COA in relation to the questioned procurement.

“DepEd commits to working closely with the COA to ensure the continuous improvement of its services to the public,” it said. —VBL, GMA News