Strengthen tender evaluation to curb runaway corruption

Transparency and accountability in managing large and complex contracts will go a long way in ensuring value for money. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

In February, the Auditor General flagged a Sh8.9 billion military food tender due to a number of procurement flaws, including allowing certain “special” bids to proceed to the technical evaluation, the financial evaluation and award despite the bidders not meeting requirements.

Similarly, in 2015, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) was ordered by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) to repeat an evaluation of pre-export verification tenders on grounds that it discriminated against a bidder and that the bidding timelines were not adhered to.

Due to the huge sums of money involved, public procurement remains one of the most vulnerable enterprises to corruption across the globe.

The OECD observes that because of the volume of transactions and the financial interests at stake, corruption risks are exacerbated by the complexity of evaluation, political influence and power some members of the society wield.

The ethics commission indicates that a number of unethical dealings, undercuttings, bribery, political influence, shoving and pushing occur during bid evaluation.

A study by the World Bank and OECD indicate that those paying the bribes want to recover their money by inflating prices, billing for work not done, failing to meet contract standards, reducing quality of work or using inferior materials.

Bid evaluation does not only help to determine the lowest bids but is also useful in achieving value for money. However, evaluation is usually hijacked by various interests against procurement laws and rules.

Bid scrutiny is important in ensuring that bidders who do not meet the threshold are eliminated and the procuring entity should put in place mechanisms that can help identify cases of malpractice and malice between the bidders and the eassessors.

Evaluation should eliminate documentation that raises suspicion, including those that are forged. Any mistake in documentation should lead to disqualification.

After a water-tight evaluation, the procuring entity must ensure due diligence is done to the winning bids. This may include visit to the bidder’s premise, speaking with contacts to ascertain that the bidder has performed such a task before, among other considerations.

That said, care should be taken to ensure that the evaluation is also not abused to lock out eligible bidders, especially on minor compliance issues.

In Mexico, to limit interactions between public officials and bidders, all documents arising from tendering are exchanged electronically. The whole process is accessed through the website, including decisions on the awards.

In Germany, the Federal Procurement Agency in the Ministry of the Interior has set up an electronic workflow that helps centralise all information related to the procurement activities of the Agency and provide a record of the different stages of the ongoing procurement procedures.

There is a need for evaluation to be above board and teh assessing team should be made up of men and women of integrity to curb graft at the evaluation stage.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.