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Comelec to tap DOST on poll machine testing

Posted on: April 20, 2009

Comelec to tap DOST on poll machine testing

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:11:00 04/20/2009

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Government Contracts, Elections, Computing & Information Technology

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will tap additional IT experts from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) during the testing of the poll machines to be used in the 2010 elections, an official said.

Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) chairman Ferdinand Rafanan said the Comelec en banc approved his committee’s recommendation to get two additional representatives who will sit as members of the technical working group (TWG).

In his letter to DOST dated April 16, Rafanan requested the department to nominate five representatives, with two sitting as additional members of the TWG that will conduct end-to-end evaluation of poll machines of bidders from April 30 to May 8.

“The additional two technical experts for the TWG are not pre-determined and are to be known only on the day of the technical evaluation of poll machines to promote a fair, transparent process,” said Rafanan.

Science and Technology Undersecretary Fortunato Dela Peña, who is also a member of the Comelec Advisory Council, said in an SMS to INQUIRER.net that he is awaiting instructions from Secretary Estrella Alabastro on the matter.

There will be a simulation of the actual election day process in the technical evaluation—from casting of votes on special paper ballots, feeding of voter-marked ballots to the machines, consolidation, printing, and transmission of election results using a public telecommunications service, said Rafanan.

Composed of officials from the Comelec IT department, government agencies, and poll watchdogs, the TWG helped the SBAC in drafting the bid documents containing the requirements and specifications of the 2010 poll automation system.

“Comelec’s P11.3-billion poll automation plan for the 2010 polls is a big project and it is but right to get as many experts to conduct the end-to-end testing of the machines,” SBAC vice chairman Adolfo Ibañez.

Comelec will automate the 2010 election polls through the deployment of 80,136 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in all polling precincts and canvassing sites.

Using the poll machines, the voter will shade ovals beside the candidate’s names pre-printed in the ballots, then feed the marked ballots to the PCOS machine. A PCOS machine will scan and read the paper ballots, count the votes, generate election results, and transmit electronically the results to Comelec designated servers for canvassing.

Meanwhile, DOST will also help Comelec in the accreditation of one technical person who will operate the PCOS machines on election day and who will be part of the Board of Inspectors for clustered precincts in the 2010 polls, said Dela Pena.

Ten bidders have bought the terms of reference/request for proposal from the Comelec: Smartmatic-Total Information Management, Avante International Technology Inc., Syrex Corp.-Scantron, DVS Philippines-Samsung, Indra Systems S.A., Sequoia-Universal Storefront Services Co., All Data International Inc., Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd., AMA Group Holdings Corp.-Election Systems and Software International Inc., and Mega Data Corp., SBAC documents showed.

Before the technical evaluation set from April 30 to May 8, the SBAC will open the bids on April 27. The contract will be awarded no later than May 22, said Rafanan.

In a separate interview, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said the SBAC has full authority to oversee the procurement process, adding that the Comelec en banc will closely observe the procurement process.

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