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Publicise tender evaluation reports to expose looters

KETHI D KILONZO
By Kethi Kilonzo | December 6th 2015

Your Excellency,

Kenya has an elaborate law directing how government should procure goods and services. It is called the Public Procurement and Disposal Act. Parliament passed it in 2005. It was operationalised in 2007.

The law was passed by Parliament with five objectives. One, to maximise economy and efficiency. Two, to promote integrity and fairness in public procurement procedures. Three, to increase transparency and accountability. Four, to increase public confidence in public procurement procedures. Five, to facilitate promotion of local industry and economic development.

Your declaration that corruption in the country is now a matter of national security is an admission that something has terribly failed in public procurement procedures.

Your Excellency, the Public Procurement and Disposal Act is a good law. Among many other provisions it requires the following things from your government officials.

One, the Public Procurement Oversight Authority should ensure that the law is complied with. Two, the Authority is required to monitor procurement by government and hand in regular reports to the Cabinet Secretary in charge of the Treasury. Three, the Authority should propose any changes to the law to ensure the objectives of the law, to keep procurement by your government above board and under the Law, are met. If the Authority, and the Cabinet Secretary had met these three requirements, corruption would not be a matter of national security. If the oversight reports by the authority are not available, and the proposals by the authority to amend the law to deal with corruption are also not available, perhaps the problem lies not with the law or its institutions, but with the officers manning these institutions.

Four, the law requires that every institution in your government should have a tender evaluation committee. Before this committee can award any tender it must prepare a report of the evaluation of all the tenders submitted, and give reasons for awarding the tender to the winning bidder.

The evaluation reports prepared by the tender committee before they award any tender are never made public. When losing bidders request for the reports, they are always denied.

Today, and since 2007, there are only two bodies that can request for tender evaluation reports: the Procurement Oversight Authority and the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board. Both bodies have over time, since 2007, refused to release the tender evaluation reports to the losing bidders or the public.

Your Excellency, the request to the public to innovate digital applications that will make it easier for the public to report any corruption or suspected corruption to your government is admirable.

However, nothing will make corruption in public procurement harder to hide, and easier to report, than you directing Parliament, to amend the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, to make it mandatory for losing bidders and the public to be given copies of tender evaluation reports.

Once made available to the losing bidders, and the public, the tender evaluation reports will show whether goods and services will be purchased at market prices. It will show whether the winning bid is the lowest bid. It will show whether the winning bid met all the requirements of the tender.

Once the evaluation report is made available to the losing bidders, and to the public, corrupt public officials will have nowhere to hide. Private companies that win tenders through corrupting public officials will also be exposed.

Five, the Public Procurement and Disposal Act has 144 provisions. The Public Procurement and Disposal Regulations have 95 provisions. A total of 239 requirements.

Your Excellency, by only adding one more provision, for them to reach 240, through making it mandatory to make public and available tender evaluation reports, you will bottle and seal shut the genie of tenderpreneurship.

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