MANILA, (PNA)—A House of Representatives member is seeking to further improve the government procurement process by providing additional measures that will shorten the present bureaucratic intricacies of the system, hasten the procurement process and enhance transparency.
Rep. Evelina G. Escudero (1st District, Sorsogon) said despite the reforms and the recognition of Republic Act No. 9184, otherwise known as the “Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA),” by multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank as a world-class legislation, several issues continue to plague the government procurement system.
For one, Escudero said the World Bank identified the combination of weak budget allocation process, intricate and non-transparent budget execution and the predominance of patron-client relationships in politics and the bureaucracy as factors that facilitate corruption in government procurement.
“Other problems of the present system that need to be addressed are lack of organic procurement body in government agencies, low vendor turnout because bid contracts are not posted ahead of time, and absence of contract administration mechanism within the solicitation system,” said Escudero, a vice chairperson of the Committees on Cooperatives Development and on Higher and Technical Education.
Escudero filed House Bill 6246 seeking to amend R.A. 9184, as amended, to enhance and expedite the government procurement process. The bill is now pending at the Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Isidro T. Ungab (3rd District, Davao City).
First, the bill seeks to amend Section 7 of R.A. 9184, pertaining to Procurement Planning And Budgeting Linkage, so that the annual procurement plan of the national government agencies shall conform with the National Development Plan, and in case of the local government unit (LGU), with the Local Development Plan.
The procuring entities shall make a list of their purchase priority that shall be included in their annual procurement plan and budget.
Second, the bill seeks to amend Section 13 of R.A. 9184, pertaining to Observers in the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), so that the BAC observers are members in good standing of the sector, discipline or non-government organization (NGO) they represent as duly certified by the head of the sector, discipline or organization to which they belong.
Each BAC observer shall make a separate report on the conduct of the public bidding, its procedures, conditions and problems, if any, which shall be submitted to the procuring entity, the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) and the Commission on Audit (COA).
In case of unavailability of the observers from the NGO or private sector, the GPPB shall provide qualified observers to the BAC. For this purpose, the GPPB shall maintain a registry of procurement professionals qualified to be observers to the BAC.
The absence of any of the BAC observers and corresponding reports shall nullify the bidding process, the bill provides.
Third, the bill seeks to amend Section 21 of R.A. 9184, pertaining to Advertising and Contents of the Invitation to Bid, so that in line with the principle of transparency and competitiveness, all Invitations to Bid for contracts under competitive bidding shall be posted on the entity’s website and be advertised by the procuring entity in such manner and for such length of time as may be necessary under the circumstances, in order to ensure the widest possible dissemination thereof.
The Invitation to Bid, including the list of requirements, conditions, contract details and required tax clearances and licenses, shall be posted in the procuring entity’s premises, in newspapers of general circulation, the Government-E Procurement System (G-EPS) and the website of the procuring entity at least 60 days before deadline for submission of bids.
Fourth, the bill seeks to amend Section 22 of R.A. 9184, pertaining to Pre-bid Conference, so that pre-bid conference or conferences shall be held within 30 days after the last day of posting of the Invitation to Bid and within a reasonable period before the deadline for receipt of bids to allow prospective bidders to adequately prepare their bids, which shall be specified in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
Fifth, the bill seeks to amend Section 25 of R.A. 9184, pertaining to Submission and Receipt of Bids, so that the GPPB may prescribe innovative procedures for the submission, receipt and opening of bids through the G-EPS. The GPPB shall upgrade the electronic bidding system in the G-EPS that facilitates the submission of bids, quotation, documents and payment to the BAC through an electronic device. The GPPB may prescribe other innovative procedures that expedite the procurement process.
Sixth, the bill seeks to amend Section 29 of the law, pertaining to Bid Opening, so that the BAC shall publicly open all bids at the time, date and place specified in the bidding documents, which shall not be more than five days after the deadline of the submission of the bids.
Seventh, the bill seeks to amend Section 35 of the law, pertaining to Failure of Bidding, so that the BAC of the procuring entity shall inform in writing the GPPB of the failure of bidding and the reason thereof. The BAC of the procuring entity shall secure the approval of GPPB for re-bidding or negotiated procurement. (PNA).