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Majority of unsuccessful gov’t procurements fail during invitation to bid stage —GPPB

The majority of unsuccessful attempts at government procurement fail due to poor planning, an official from the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) said Wednesday.

GPPB-Technical Support Office Executive Director Rowena Candice Ruiz made the disclosure during the deliberations on proposals seeking to amend the government procurement law to expedite the procurement process, including House Bill 18 filed by House Speaker Martin Romualdez of Leyte.

“Sixty-three percent of failure in procurement is in the invitation to bid stage. The [government] agency posts the invitation bid, tapos binabawi [then they take it back]. It shows they are not ready,” Ruiz said, referring to 2020 data she provided.

“It is due to lack of planning on technical specifications, wrong costing, wrong submission for a request. Planning tayo nagkakaproblema [The problems really start in the planning stage],” Ruiz added.

Ruiz lamented that for one, Bids and Awards Committees tend to have a wide latitude in disqualifying bidders based on a whim rather than a hard and fast rule.

“We have an experience wherein in Cebu, one bidder was automatically disqualified because their submitted document was supposedly from a particular place where notary services cannot be trusted. There are a lot of subjective standards applied when it comes to eligibility check, kaya ang daming nadi-disqualify [which is why many are disqualified] early on,” she said.

Ruiz added that other instances have to do with BACs' requiring documents to be signed using blue ink, to guarantee that the document is original, because a signature in black ink would make it hard to distinguish the original document from the copy. 

She also said that there are BACs that require more document copies aside from the hard copy, such as a soft copy in a USB data storage device.

“Those are not grounds for disqualification. You don’t disqualify [a bidder] for the most simple or less substantial reasons like this or else we are being non-competitive,” Ruiz said.

In addition, Ruiz said around 20% of government agencies resort to passing the procurement task to another government agency when their budget is about to expire, which is by the end of the year.

“Around 20% of the agencies are doing procurement using the DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] Procurement Service and PITC [Philippine International Trading Corporation]. And these are not for common use items. We notice that this practice oftentimes happens when the funding is about to lapse...this [scheme] becomes their last resort to save the funding,” Ruiz said.

“The agency that requested the budget [for procurement] should be the one implementing it. Since an agency transfers the procurement responsibilities to another agency and even makes it end-to-end meaning from bidding to payment. So this results in more delays,” she said.

Ruiz also stressed that the government awards bids not to the lowest bidder, but to the meritorious one.

“We don’t award projects to the lowest bid. It should be responsive, and that is why technical specifications should be met,” Ruiz said.

The House revision of laws panel will convene a technical working group to consolidate measures seeking to address the concerns mainly raised by the GPPB. — BM, GMA Integrated News