MID to discuss e-procurement system with Pacific Tenders

MID Permanent Secretary (PS) Stephen Maesiola
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MINISTRY of Infrastructure Development (MID) is preparing to discuss with Pacific Tenders on its new E-procurement system to address corruption in the Government’s procurement process.

Permanent Secretary, Stephen Maesiola confirmed this when asked by Island Sun yesterday.

Maesiola said the ministry is waiting to discuss the new product with Pacific Tenders.

He said the ministry has been a partner with Pacific Tenders through advertising contracts on its online platform.

According to Pacific Tenders, in any market, there is no guarantee of success.

“Tenders can be a mug’s game. A success rate of 1 in 3 is considered to be quite good, which means there are a lot of lost tenders to debrief.

“But the hardest part is finding out the real reason why you didn’t win. The scoring was the scoring, and often times it is done as fairly and objectively as possible by tender evaluation committees. But everyone wants the playing field to be level until they’re winning on it,” PT said.

“Take the hypothetical example of the NZ-based firm, with a long-term operation in a Pacific country. Chinese firms have been under-cutting their prices for 10 years now and they can’t compete with the price element.

“So, they lobby to have other elements of their work scored more highly in bids, such as quality or safety track record, to ‘level up the playing field,” PT said.

In addition, PT said for the banks in particular, who idolise market competition, it has been difficult to prize them away from their particular obsession with ‘the lowest priced conforming bid.’

“There has been some movement in this direction, but it is discretionary and therefore corruptible. Banks try to avoid any subjective analysis when assessing evaluation criteria.

“The incentives for bank employees would need to change to encourage a deeper examination of “value” in tenders and resulting contracts,” PT said.

“None of this helps small firms much though of course. More requirements only raise the bar and therefore make the price and effort for entry higher.

“This reduces competitiveness overall.

“A nuanced approach to each market and project type, based on market survey and research, would be a welcome development,” PT said.

“This may lead to more ‘limited international bidding’, market-appropriate evaluation criteria. E-procurement platforms, including Pacific Tenders, also have a role – to provide remote tender submission and reduces perceptions of corruption.

“Perhaps then the ADB President would have a response to his own comment.,” PT said.