MONROVIA – The controversies surrounding the use of biometric technology for voters’ registration and the proper voting process in the ensuing 2023 general elections may delay the deadline set by the National Elections Commission for commencement of process as the Public Procurement and Contract Commission (PPCC) has written to the National Elections Commission(NEC) to start a fresh bidding process where all the six bidders that participated in the previous arrangement will consider a video recorded re-demonstration even as PPCC did not address the substantive issues raised by NEC.
In a letter of September 20, 2023 from PPCC signed by the Atty Jargbe Roseline Nimley Kowo its executive Director and addressed to Madam Davidetta Brown-Lassanah, the Chairman of NEC, The PPCC states that the NEC is to promptly ensure adherence to the counts to facilitate further expeditious and wholesome review by the commission
“The PPCC, thus, maintains its review decision, as outlined in the September 9, 2022 letter, that the NEC conduct a ReEvaluation which must consider a Video Recorded Re-Demonstraticn by the bidders who did the physical demonstration as per NEC’s submissions, for subsequent reference by the Evaluation Panel during its overail ReEvaluation process and for future reference on a bidder’s obligations in case of breach in the functionalities of the Biometric system during the conduct of the Voter’s Registration. The NEC should also institute all other advisories as per the PPCC September 9, 2022 communication”,
“The Public Procurement and Concessions Commission admonishes and deems it a priority that you remain primarily in compliance with the PPCA, 2010, as we jointly aspire to achieve transparency, accountability, Value for Money and ultimately public confidence in Liberia’s public procurement and concessions processes.
According information reaching The Analyst the NEC has reported that it will invite all bidders to re-demonstrate as requested by the PPCC since it is the regulatory body for procurement processes. The delay in the procurement process could affect the timeline for the December 15, 2022, date set for the start of voter registration.
According to reliable sources, the NEC has asked the PPCC to provide clarity on the requested scope of the re-demonstration and re-evaluation, since the PPCC did not address the questions raised by the NEC in its September 13, 2022, communication to the PPCC. This according to the NEC will enhance transparency, fairness, and accountability in the procurement process.
The questions raised by the NEC in its September 13, 2022 communication to the PPCC that were not addressed from where NEC maintained that if the PPCC still believes that bidders should be called again to redo the presentation of their enrolment and deduplication processes, it was raising some concerns and seeks clarity from PPCC among which are that though the PPCC did not comment on the expertise and/or pre-finance capacity of any other bidder, it however commented on the expertise and pre-finance capacity of the selected bidder, the joint venture of Ekemp, INITS, and Palm. The NEC seeks clarity as follows: Is it the position of the PPCC that its September 9th statement on the expertise and pre-finance capacity of the joint venture of Ekemp, INITS, and Palm disqualifies this bidder from further consideration? If the answer is “yes”, should this bidder be invited to redo its enrollment and de-duplication processes as requested in the PPCC’s September 9th communication to the NEC?
“The Bid Evaluation Panel’s report, submitted to the PPCC on August 30, 2022, informed that three bidders were unresponsive to the pre-finance requirement. Question: Is it the position of the PPCC that these bidders be invited to redo their enrollment and de-duplication processes?
“Bidders, during their respective presentations of the enrollment/ registration process, were required to start and complete their enrollment and deduplication processes using one of NEC staff. Out of the five bidders, two were unable to complete the enrollment and did not print cards on the spot, as required in the standard bidding document. Question: Is it the position of the PPCC that the two bidders be given another opportunity to cure whatever defects or unresponsiveness they had in their submission and/or previous physical presentation? If so, would it be fair to the other bidders who were responsive during the previous physical presentation?” NEC said in its concerns raised with PPCC.
NEC’s further concerns have it that Although the period for filing a protest has not accrued, at which time a bidder may refute the information the Evaluation Panel documented in its report, or refute the authenticity of the three cards that were printed during the physical presentations and submitted to the PPCC, the PPCC casts aspersion on the process by saying that the presentations should have been video-recorded, and ends by requesting a redo of the physical presentations. The PPCC did not, however, cite any provision from the Act that mandates that a bidder’s physical showing of its enrollment process must be video-recorded and that photos taken during such presentations cannot be honored. The PPCC is therefore requested to cite which provision of the Act or Regulations it is relying on to make such a request.
It also noted that the Evaluation Panel’s report shows that bidder Laxton Group Limited was unresponsive during the physical presentation in that it used a laptop rather than a tablet with fingerprint scanner as required in the standard bidding document. The PPCC, however, referenced a June 30, 2022 email exchange between Laxton and staff of NEC regarding the removal of tripod requirement from the tablets, and stated that such exchange “can be construed as an option that a laptop could also be provided by a bidder.” Having offered this statement, the PPCC concluded however that “there is no evidential showings that this clarification was conveyed to all bidders, as required by PPCA Section 33(2)”. The NEC views the quoted statements as contradictory and therefore seeks clarity from the PPCC: Is it the position of the PPCC that the June 30, 2022 email exchange — assuming but without agreeing that same could be construed as an option — takes precedence over the technical specification in the standard bidding document, requiring the use of tablet with fingerprint scanner?
And finally, Should Laxton be invited to redo its enrollment/registration process? If Laxton is to be invited to redo its presentation and shows up with the required tablet this time around, should the NEC allow Laxton to use the tablet? If “yes”, would it be fair to the other bidders who are aware that Laxton used a laptop during the previous presentation and as such was evaluated as being unresponsive in this matter? Also, should the other bidders be given another opportunity to cure whatever defects or other unresponsiveness they had in their submission and/or previous physical presentation?
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