Ensure transparency of government bidding system

The Government's e-procurement portal GeBiz, which allows government agencies to engage registered suppliers and vendors through an open invitation, is supposed to be a transparent platform where all transactions are carried out in a fair and above-board manner.

However, I have made the following observations:

• Some government agencies have informal discussions with a few selected vendors, to share their specifications for upcoming Invitations to Quote (ITQs), before these are officially published on GeBiz.

While such informal meetings may not guarantee the vendors the project, these may give them an unfair advantage over other bidders and will cast doubt on the transparency of the bidding system.

All information for potential projects should be disseminated via a mass briefing for interested vendors and not just for selected ones.

Otherwise, it will defeat the purpose of an open invitation.

• There are instances where the closing date of an ITQ and the actual award of the tender are within the space of a few days.

In one case, the closing date for an ITQ put up by a secondary school in Jurong West was on Oct 16.

The award of the project was made on Oct 19 and the actual delivery of the workshop was on Oct 20 and 21.

It is very unusual for an award to be made within such a short span of time, particularly when Oct 17 and 18 fall on a weekend.

This incident, which is just the tip of the iceberg of what has been happening, should set alarm bells ringing.

I hope the authorities will look into the matter.

Phua Peng Hwee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2015, with the headline 'Ensure transparency of government bidding system'. Print Edition | Subscribe