‘No procurement process breaches at EC’

 The Electoral Commission (EC) has done no wrong in the matter relating to the selection of a vendor for the New Biometric Voter Management System, a source with knowledge about the matters has revealed.

Some groups opposed to the compilation of the voters register claim that the EC bungled its procurement process, leaving a trail of evidence suggesting tender-rigging. This has opened the process to litigation and delay.

However, the source that asked not to be named pointed to the contrary and affirmed that the EC duly followed all the procurement procedures as far as the procurement of the New Biometric Voter Management system is concerned.

Explaining, the source indicated that three notifications of award of contracts for the refurbishment and upgrades of the data centre. Refurbishment of Biometric Verification Devices (BVDs) and the Biometric Voters Register (BVRs) were issued to Super Tech Limited (STL) in June 2018. 

“The notification of award of contract was to enable the Commission to conduct the 2018 referendum for the creation of new regions and the Limited Registration Exercise ahead of the 2019 District Level Elections.

The contract was for $56m but the new executive of the Electoral Commission (EC), upon assumption of office, cancelled these contracts because they wanted to satisfy themselves about the need for such a contract.

According to the source, the EC at the seventh ETC meeting on 12th June 2019, the chairperson briefed members that the Commission had decided to replace the Biometric Voter Management Solution (BVMS) that was in use since 2012.

 Thereafter, the source said, the first pre-qualification advert was placed in an Accra based newspaper on 16th April 2019 for interested tenderers to show interest by submitting pre-qualification documents.

 The submission of documents was to end on 30th April, 2019 but was extended to 7th May, 2019. The source said, “The Commission, before the procurement process ended, cancelled the tender on 22nd July, 2019. That was a result of complaints about the high financial requirement for pre-qualification which hindered a lot of companies that purchased documents from tendering. In all 17 companies purchased the Pre-qualification documents but only nine companies submitted their documents.”

Explaining further, the source said the Commission after the cancellation reduced the financial turnover required from $300,000,000 to $150,000,000. The Commission further divided the procurement package into two lots (hardware and software) to reduce the dominance/influence of one vendor over the system.

 On 20th August 2019 the second advert for Pre-qualification for hardware and software was also advertised for submission of pre-qualification documents.

The source said about the public opening on 4th October,19 companies in total submitted pre-qualification documents, saying 10 companies submitted for hardware.

It mentioned them as Ekemp, NEC West Africa, Thales, Miru Systems, Activate Tech Limited, Pura Group, Idemia, Smartmatic, Indira Solutions and Buck Press and nine companies who submitted documents for software as Idemia, Zetes, Ekemp, NEC Africa, Miru Systems, INITS, Thales, Indira Solutions and EOH Mthombo Limited. 

The source pointed out that one of the shortlisted companies, GenKey Solutions BV was late for the public opening, therefore their tender was rejected.

Consequently, an Evaluation Panel (EP) constituted by the chairperson to evaluate the companies, shortlisted Miru Systems Co. Ltd, Buck Press, Smartmatic International Holdings and Thales Digital Identity Solutions, Idemia and Zetes.

The source further indicated that a technical and financial report submitted to Central Tender Review Committee (CTRC) revealed that Thales Digital Identity Solutions was the most responsive among the other companies.

Meanwhile, the EC is in the process of negotiating and awarding the contract, the source hinted.

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