How do govt agencies ensure tender specifications are followed?

It is not a question of whether one can tell the difference between marble and quartz but, rather, the breach of a contractual obligation (Contractor replacing quartz plaques; Oct 8).

If not for the sharp-eyed family who raised the issue with the National Environment Agency (NEA), the public would not have realised that it is worth much less as well as the fact that the contractor had deviated from the terms of the contract.

Tenders are awarded based on the strict terms of a contract between two parties, which establish the conditions, obligations and product requirements.

When one party - in this case, SLS 518 - fails to fulfil these requirements, a breach of contract has occurred and I am surprised that NEA is taking the breach so lightly.

There must be consequences instead of just a straightforward replacement process.

On that note, the public also has the right to know whether due diligence is conducted on other tenders awarded by the various government agencies.

In government tenders, the award usually goes to the main contractor who, in turn, hires numerous sub-contractors and suppliers.

How can taxpayers be assured that these sub-contractors and suppliers comply fully with the specifications, country of origin and type of materials specified in the tender documents?

What are the standard operating procedures for government agencies to inspect materials prior to delivery on site or installation?

Are the items subject to sample and surveillance tests? Are there any approval processes to confirm that the government agencies had inspected the items and verified them as genuine?

Government agencies should not take things for granted and must remain vigilant because of the complexity of the supply chain.

Due to globalisation, materials are sourced internationally and we cannot rule out the possibility of imitation products being shipped in place of genuine ones as they are cheaper.

Surely the common consequence in such situations is for NEA to demand compensation via a reduction of the contract price, on top of remedying the defect.

Perhaps the Auditor-General's Office could also demand proof that materials inspected are of genuine quality, type and country of manufacturer as specified so as to prevent any possible lapses and ensure that taxpayers are not being short-changed.

Cheng Choon Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2018, with the headline 'How do govt agencies ensure tender specifications are followed?'. Print Edition | Subscribe