The Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development (BBC) is the lead organization for a project focused on monitoring government procurement. This project is anchored on the participation of civil society volunteers as observers in various Bids and Awards Committees (BACs) as provided for in Section 13 of Republic Act 9184 otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA). It envisions genuine transparency and accountability in government procurement.

The CAC-BBC Project Monitoring team, in partnership with the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) and People Power Volunteers for Reforms (PPVR), is tasked with the recruitment, providing training, deployment and monitoring of volunteer observers.

This project is financed by the Coalition Against Corruption (CAC), an alliance of the private sector, civil society and faith-based organizations.

To date, there are twenty-two (22) volunteer observers deployed in nineteen (19) government agencies namely:
Department of National Defense (DND)
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
Philippine National Police (PNP)
Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)
Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC)
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
Department of Tourism (DOT)
Department of Agriculture (DA)
Department of Public Works-Region 4-A (DPWH-R4-A)
National Irrigation Administration (NIA)
National Food Authority (NFA)
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
Department of Budget and Management (DBM)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC)
Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM)
Philippine Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)
Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC)
Office of the President-Malacanang

Summary of Observations

The observations hereunder were generated from the observers’ reports covering the period April 2012-April 2013 involving 376 projects from 17 agencies with an aggregate Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) amounting to PhP26B.

BACs Implementation of Section 13 of R.A. 9184 – Observers

In general, the observers’ reports on agencies monitored indicate that the interpretation and implementation of the Bids and Awards Committees of Section 13 of R.A. 9184 vary.

While some of the agencies invite observers to attend the bidding activities from pre-procurement to post-qualification stages, there are BACs which seemingly implement the said provision on a selective basis. However, there is one particular BAC that believes that the observers should be invited only during the Pre-Bid Conference and Opening of Bids.

Conduct of the Bidding Activities

All the pre-procurement conferences participated in and reported by the observers reveal that the BACs thoroughly discuss and scrutinize the details of the proposed procurement including the determination of the Approved Budget for Contract (ABC). The conduct of the pre-procurement conferences conforms with Section 20 of R.A. 9184 and its Revised IRR.

The observers concluded that the conduct of the pre-bid conferences of the BACs are in order. The reports also indicate two approaches of the Bids and Awards Committees in conducting the Pre-Bid Conference, to wit:

1. The BAC would merely solicit questions and queries on the bidding documents and will respond to them. At the end of the conference, the prospective bidders will be given instructions to put their queries, clarifications, questions and suggestions in writing and submit to the BAC within three days after the conference.
2. The other practice is, the BAC takes the time to explain the full details of the items including instructions and common mistakes (documentation, sealing and markings) in the preparation of bids that may cause non-compliance.

The Opening and Screening of Bid Documents, except for a few instances, are in accordance with the prescribed procedures up to the point of being too strict and technical in the application of pass/fail criteria regarding bidders’ compliance and non-compliance.

The downside of this policy application, as one of the Observers pointed out, would result to only one bidder qualifying for post-qualification. Other bidders who were declared non-compliant because of minor deficiencies may have had the most advantageous offer to the government.

The BACs of DILG, NIA and DBM allow the Observers to access the third copy/envelope of the bid for verification, validation and confirmation of what is being announced by the BAC Chair/Secretariat/TWG.

This practice of the BAC allows the Observers to scrutinize the bid documents being screened independently.

The validation, verification and confirmation of the bid documents of the bidder with the lowest calculated bid, as the post-qualification monitoring reports reveal, are done meticulously and the findings (whether compliant or not) are immediately communicated to the concerned bidder.

In some instances, where the observers discover the results of the post-qualifications to contain insufficient information and/or not in accordance with the provisions of Section 34 of R.A. 9184 and its Revised IRR, the concerned BAC would accede to their recommendations.

Some Patterns in the Bid Submissions (Deficiencies for Disqualifications)

Regardless of the BACs’ approaches in the conduct of pre-bid conferences, there were major deficiencies in the submission of bid documents which are prevalent in the documentation, sealing and markings of bid documents.

The reported deficiencies indicate some patterns and behavior of the suppliers and contractors particularly in the procurement of civil works that influence or affect the outcome of the bidding process. Notwithstanding the number and types of deficiencies in the bid submissions, this usually reduces the competing bidders to one or three suppliers/contractors.

Submission of spurious documents, which is a ground for blacklisting proceedings, occurred in two separate procurement of civil works of one agency.

Areas for Improvement
1. Review of end-users’ preparation of bid documents and details of specifications including the ABC of the items to be procured to avoid confusion during the Pre-Bid Conferences. The conflicting information given out by the BACs oftentimes caused confusion among the prospective bidders on what to prepare resulting in the cancellation of the activity.
2. Conduct of the Pre-Bid Conference. Improvement in the standard procedures and approaches of the BAC in the conduct of Pre-Bid Conference wherein the suppliers and contractors would really appreciate the need for full compliance with all the bid requirements.
3. Observers’ Access to Bid Documents During the Opening of Bids. Access to the 3rd bid envelope would enable both the observers from the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and the Commission on Audit (COA) to scrutinize and validate independently the correctness and accuracy of what is being announced by the BAC/TWG/Secretariat especially in the agencies with no equipment to project the document being screened. Such access would also minimize, if not totally avoid oversight in the screening of the bid documents.