L-R PPCC Executive Director Atty. Jargbe Roseline Nagbe Kowo/NEC Chairperson Madam Davidetta Browne-Lansanah L-R PPCC Executive Director Atty. Jargbe Roseline Nagbe Kowo/NEC Chairperson Madam Davidetta Browne-Lansanah

PPCC responds to NEC's request for approval to award contract to EKEMP/PALM -admonishes Electoral Body of PPCA, 2010 Compliance Featured

The Executive Director of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission(PPCC), Atty. Jargbe Roseline Nagbe Kowo, has admonished the National Elections Commission(NEC) to remain primarily in compliance with the PPCA, 2010 as they (NEC and PPCC) jointly aspire to achieve transparency, accountability, Value for Money and ultimately public confidence in Liberia’s public procurement processes.

The PPCC Boss Kowo’s admonition to the NEC was contained in an official communication addressed to the Chairperson of the NEC Madam Davidetta Browne-Lansanah  in response to NEC's request for approval to award contract to EKEMP/PALM INSURANCE/Lnitsfloint Venture) for the supply and delivery of Biometric Voter Registration(BVR) Equipment and Software for the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections -Fiscal Year 2022.
Atty. Kowo, who also sent her communication to the Minister of Justice Cllr. Frank Musa Dean and the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Mr. Samuel D. Tweah,Jr. wrote, ‘‘We present our compliments and acknowledge receipt of your communication dated September 7, 2022, stating your responses to preliminary queries, written by the Commission on September 2,2022, on the NEC’s request for approval to award contract to EKEMP/PALM Insurance/INITS(JV)for the supply and delivery of Biometric Voter Registration Equipment, Software and Materials for the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.’’
In the communication, the Commission highlights the NEC's responses, and states the below:
NEC's Reponses: Count 1: "Considering that some vendors, irrespective of the information contained in their financial statements, requested advance payment during the signing of the contract and do not prefinance as a matter of policy, the NEC wishes to inform PPCC that it views the joint prefinance responsibilities of Ekemp International Limited/INITS Limited/Palm Insurance Inc. in its totality (including their commitment found on Page 2, count 3 of Cover Letter of its submission) as follows: " 3. We confirm that we are capable and able to Pre-finance the supply and delivery of biometric equipment, software and material for the voter registration Exercise for the 2023 general elections With this the NEC found that the Joint Venture can prefinance its level of responsibilities. The three parties in the joint venture are direct service providers and/or original equipment manufacturers, which enable the partners to immediately begin the process and deliver to the Commission within the timelines required. Moreover, the terms of the contract, as the PPCC is aware, will supersede and each member of the joint venture is individually and severally held responsible liable”.
PPCC Response: The NEC should note cogently that as per the EKEMP/INITS/Palm Insurance Joint Venture Agreement, Palm Insurance obligations are absent of expertise, knowledge and experience on the actual biometric services, but rather is only prefinance. The requirement the NEC indicated: Capacity to Prefinance, is for the bidder to showcase in its proposal/offer proficiency and financial capability, if such is declared.
It is also important to point out that as per the PPCC's review of the financial statements of all parties combined of the JV: EKEMP, 1NITS and Palm Insurance, there is no showing of financial capabilities and adequacy to prefinance this project, in the support of their commitment to prefinance as declared.
The PPCC noting the NEC’s response: "Moreover, the terms of the contract, as the PPCC is aware, will supersede and each member of the joint venture is individually and severally held liable", states that such response would culminate into the NEC allowing the contract to ignore the unresponsiveness of a bidder to a mandatory requirement and to the facts of the bidder's proposal. The PPCC states that this is clearly a risk.
Additionally, by the NEC’s analogy, the issue of a bidder being responsive to a stipulated mandatory criterion required is moot; given that the bidder's unresponsiveness, will then subsequently be addressed and cured through a contract enforcement without bearing in mind the facts of the bidder's offer. This approach is risky for any procurement process, much more a national electoral procurement. If all bidders’ unresponsiveness to mandatory requirements in a bidding process are to be addressed during the signing of contracts, then there is no need for an evaluation. This perspective is flawed and is not in the spirit of fair and proper evaluation of bids prior to award of a contract, as prescribed by PPCA Section 32.
NEC’s Response Count 2: "The NEC wishes to inform the PPCC that the presentation of vendors was done physically before the Bid Evaluation Panel of which there were only physical demonstrations, no video recording was done, and the Bid Evaluation Panel did not request any PowerPoint presentations to be turned over to it. Photos were taken during the presentation and said photos were submitted to the PPCC on September 2, 2022".
PPCC Response: As per the NEC's submissions to PPCC, a determining factor under the NEC’s Biometric Bidding Process was the demonstration of the biometric process, i.e., the enrollment and deduplication processes. The usability and functionality of the Biometric System Equipment and Software were key factors for NEC’s evaluation, and also determining factors upon which some bidders were eliminated as per the BEP's report.
However, as per the NEC’s submissions, aside from the still photos, there is no indication that the NEC's Bid Evaluation Panel in its entirety was part of the viewing of the physical demonstrations, nor is there a showing of a full report of this important demonstration process, A video recording was important to sho wcase proof of moving depictions of the demonstration of the Biometric process bv the bidders.
Please note that the PPCC's request for the Videos and PowerPoint presentations is aligned with the mandate to institute a fair review of a procuring entity's (NEC’s) submissions, by attaining more information on the indicated demonstrations, prior to approval. The NEC should note that the photos submissions cannot do justice on depicting the physical demonstrations, for they are still and static illustrations that cannot rightly capture the motions of the enrollment and deduplication process. A key role of the Commission under its prior review mandates, is to authenticate that the bidding process conducted are done in line with applicable procedures, fairly and transparently: and that bidders are treated equitably in terms of review and scrutiny.
NEC's Response Count 3: The NEC wishes to inform the PPCC that the standard bidding document did not require bidders to notarize their joint venture agreement”.
PPCC Response: The PPCC states that the NEC given its response, should be cognizant that there are issues associated with the exclusion of a notary public, for it is important for authenticating the identities of the JV partner, assessing parties' willingness to sign said JV agreement, and certifying and archiving such transactions in case of future litigation.
Other Findings:
• That the NEC's clarification of June 30, 2022, in response to an inquiry from one of the bidders regarding the removal of the Tripod from the requirement, can be construed as an option that a laptop could also be provided by a bidder. (See attached). Furthermore, there is no evidential showings that this clarification was conveyed to all other bidders, as required by PPCA Section 33(2).
The PPCC, upon overall review of the NEC's request, accompanying documents, clarifications to subsequent queries, responses and further scrutiny, states the below:
1. That the NEC must Re-Evaluate the bidders' proposals expeditiously, considering the following:
That a Re-Demonstration of the biometric enrollment and deduplication process be done by the bidders and must be Video-Recorded to serve as: a) constant reference by the Evaluation Panel during the Re-Evaluation process, since the demonstration is a crucial evaluation determinant as per NEC's submissions; This must be done for the NEC to enable the principles of transparency and fairness in review of key performance requirements during its evaluation of the bidders;
(A video recording is key to showcase proof of moving depictions on the performance of Biometric Equipment and System demonstrated by the bidders):
b) future reference on a bidder's obligations to the Biometric Equipment and System performance, in case of breach in the functionalities of the Biometric system during the conduct of the Voter's Registration: The Bidders' PowerPoint presentations should also be reviewed by the Evaluation Panel;
That the NEC should conduct overall evaluation considering mandatory requirements outlaid in its bidding document issued to the bidders, and the NEC must do its utmost to ensure fairness, and transparency of review in consonance with to governing procedures.
The Commission states that the NEC is to promptly ensure adherence to the above counts to facilitate further expeditious and wholesome review by the Commission.
That given the national and very sensitive nature of this procurement, as this is the First Biometric Voter
Registration Exercise for Liberia, covering the country in its entirety and not just a minuscule pilot phase, it is very critical that the best company be selected via a fair, transparent and thorough review and evaluation process, to facilitate the conduct of Biometric exercises without material and major hurdles, for the State's 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections. That PPCC is willing to arrange a meeting with the NEC's Board of Commissioners to discuss the above findings, given the national importance of this electoral procurement.

At the same time, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia on Monday, September 12, 2022 issued a press statement in Monrovia, denying having ever sent the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia an official Diplomatic Note, or any other communication, with the request to acquire a sample or specimen of the 2023 National Voter Registration Card.

‘‘That statement is correct; however, we wish to issue a clarification. In July of this year, the Embassy did send the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a Diplomatic Note, as part of its routine diplomatic correspondence, requesting fully completed sample specimens of travel, identity, and other official documents issued by Liberia. The Department of State makes this request to all countries in the world as part of our continuing effort to prevent fraudulent use of international travel, identity, and civil documents. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs correctly passed this request to the various government entities responsible for producing those documents, including the National Elections Commission (NEC),’’ the U.S. Embassy in press statement pointed out.

‘‘The letters published in the press from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are neither forged nor nefarious, but rather routine diplomatic correspondence that had no connection to the NEC’s important work in procuring new biometric voting systems,’’ the U.S. Embassy added in the press statement.

Last modified on Tuesday, 27 September 2022 08:19
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