Time to look into boosting accountability in govt tenders

There have been several cases recently where government tender contracts were awarded to organisations that failed to deliver. 

Tenders are often awarded to one of the lowest bidders - not necessarily the lowest- without regard, it appears, to their finances, track record, and quality of work, among other things.

I echo Dr V. Subramaniam's call for accountability and transparency in tender procedures (Strengthen tender process for government contracts; March 21).

Some companies unscrupulously submit bids at cut-throat prices in order to secure the contract but are ultimately unable to deliver.

It is a serious lapse when such firms are awarded the contract because it reflects on the lack of due diligence performed by the relevant government agencies.

Firms that fail to deliver should be placed on a government blacklist, which will help to filter out those that have a poor track record. Government agencies that award contracts to these firms must also justify why they were selected in the first place.

There must be prior evaluation of a bidder's ability to deliver, and firms must be required to show that they can sustain their operations for the entire duration of a project, based on the bidding price that they submitted.

There should also be a "white list" of firms that have done well, and have completed their projects on time, which can be shared with government agencies .

As large amounts of public funds are at stake, it is critical for the relevant tendering agency to review its processes and make improvements to limit or prevent wastage of public funds.

Gary Teo Teck Chye

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2017, with the headline 'Time to look into boosting accountability in govt tenders'. Print Edition | Subscribe