We thank Mr Gary Teo Teck Chye for his letter (Time to look into boosting accountability in govt tenders; last Thursday).
Government tenders are evaluated based on a combination of price and quality factors, which are spelt out in the tender documents.
In some instances, there are pre-requisites to ensure that only suitably qualified suppliers are shortlisted. For example, in construction tenders, suppliers must be registered under the Building and Construction Authority's Contractors Registration System (CRS). Suppliers must also meet the requirements on financial capacity, technical capability, and have the relevant track record, to be registered under the CRS.
Due diligence is conducted carefully on all suitable bids. It would not be fair to reject low bids outright. Suppliers may be interviewed or asked to make clarifications to assess whether they have the ability to carry out the works at the bid price.
For proper accountability, the decision to award a tender is made by a separate team comprising senior personnel - independent of the evaluation team.
The Government is committed to ensuring that the awarded contracts are well-managed and the contractors selected are able to deliver. Despite the rigorous due diligence, some contractors still fail and we have found no evidence linking such defaults to lowest bidders.
Contractors who default on government contracts are debarred from government tenders for between 1 year and 5 years. This will safeguard the public interest against errant contractors.
Lim Yuin Chien
Director (Corporate Communications)
Ministry of Finance