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Two bidders vie for P11-B automation contract

Posted on: May 17, 2009

Two bidders vie for P11-B automation contract

Comelec group defers ruling on lowest bid
By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 09:10:00 05/17/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Technology (general), Government

MANILA, Philippines–Two bidders are now racing to bag the P11.2 billion automation project of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), as a bid committee opened their financial proposals.

On Saturday night, the Special Bids and Awards Committee, chaired by Comelec legal department director Ferdinand Rafanan, opened the financial bids of the consortium of Smartmatic and Total Information Management (TIM) and the consortium of Indra Sistemas, Hart Intercivic and Strategic Alliance Holdings Inc. (SAHI).

But the body deferred announcement of the lowest calculated bid pending appeals filed by two other participating bidders.

Smartmatic and local partner TIM pegged its financial bid for the automation contract at P7,191,484,739.48—about P4 billion below than the total contract amount.

Meanwhile, the consortium of Indra Sistemas, SAHI and Hart Intercivic offered a proposal worth P11,223,307,799, a bid lower by P310, 609 from the contract amount.

The financial proposals were opened “without prejudice to the pending motion for reconsiderations” and in preparation for evaluating the bidder with lowest calculated bid, said Rafanan.

“Looking for the bidder with lowest calculated responsive bid does not necessarily mean selecting a bidder with the least expensive proposal. We have to strike a balance between the bidder’s eligibility to handle the project, their technical capacity to comply with requirements of the Comelec for the automated election system, and financial proposal that should not exceed the total contract amount,” added Rafanan.

SBAC said the P11,223,618,400 total contract amount covers the following: P10.923 billion for the automated election system, including the lease amount for 80,000 precinct count optical scan machines and canvassing units; P200 million for transmission costs; and P100 million for project management costs.

Rafanan said the SBAC would declare the lowest calculated responsive bid after it resolves the motions for reconsideration filed by the consortium of AMA Group Holdings and Electronic Systems and Software International and Gilat Satellite Network, which partnered with Filipinas Systems and the controversial F.F. Cruz & Co, the company which was dragged into a supposed “Youtube scandal” allegedly showing a deal fixing for the automation contract.

Both bidders were dropped from the bidding after they failed to submit required documents during the ongoing proposal evaluation this week.

But both groups have asked SBAC to reconsider their bids.

The SBAC said it would release a resolution granting or junking the pending bid appeals.

Rafanan said that if any of appeals were granted, it would then open eligibility, technical and financial proposals before declaring the bidder with the lowest calculated bid.

Considering that it was the provider of poll machines in the 2008 automated elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Smartmatic “aggressively had a lower financial bid than its competitors,” observed Comelec Advisory Council member Ivan Uy, who watched the bidding process from the sidelines.

After bid proposals are opened, the Technical Working Group (TWG) for the bidding will evaluate the poll machine using 26 specifications set as minimum system requirements for poll machines.

The TWG requires that the machines should continuously operate for over 12 hours on battery and related alternative power sources; detect and reject fake ballots; and electronically transmit votes from the polling precinct to Comelec-designated servers, Rafanan said.

SBAC has invited all qualified bidders to set up their poll machines on Monday in preparation for the technical evaluation on Tuesday.

In the event that the poll machines of the bidder with lowest calculated bid fails any of the 26 system requirements, the TWG will then evaluate the machine of the bidder with the next lowest calculated bid.

The Comelec aims to award the P11.2 billion automation contract by end of May, Rafanan said.

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