University of Liberia IT Contract Awarded to Mwanta ‘Not Legal’
Monrovia – With no bidding process and advertisement done as required by the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC), the University of Liberia on March 5, 2018 chose to name a Liberian software firm, Mwantana Consultant Technology, to run its digital registration program.
Report by Al Varney Rogers, [email protected]
The PPCC implementation manual 6.1.4 step 4 says that Invitation to Bid is a key factor in assuring that the objectives of the law are achieved to maximizing economy and efficiency in procurement.
The law furthered that it is meant to obtain best value for public expenditures, promote competition and foster participation in procurement proceedings.
It is also aimed at providing equal access without discrimination to all eligible and qualified providers of goods, works and services, fair and equitable treatment of all bidders.
The Act requires invitation for bids to be published in the Procurement bulletin, Gazette, national print media of wide circulation, electronic media, and, when feasible, in selected international media.
But with no regard for such procedure, the president of the nation’s highest institution of learning, Dr. Ophelia I. Weeks, during the announcement of the contract to Mwantana described the process as a small step for a giant outcome.
“Once we make this step, there are so many other steps that we will be able to make with this digitization process; not only registration, but finance, human resources and others. This is one of our small steps for a giant outcome as we enter the 21st century,” Dr. Weeks said.
Contrary to the announcement, UL authority on April 6, 2018 informed the Public Procurement & Concessions Commissions Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer, Mr. James Dorbor Jallah, that it has not awarded any contract to Mwantana Consultant Technology.
“Upon reading the story in the Friday, April 6, 2018 edition of the FPA newspaper alleging that the contract had already been awarded to Mwantana, I called Prof. Bolay to get clarification,” Jallah said.
“She (Prof. Bolay) assured me that the contract has not been awarded and that she is in the process of compiling all of the documents pointed out in our meeting of April 4, 2018 for submission to PPCC,” Jallah stated.
He also disclosed that the institute’s administration submitted a letter to the PPCC on March 27, 2018 requesting for no objection to single-source Mwantana Consultant Technology.
“UL submitted a letter under the signature of Prof. Weade Kobbah Boley, Vice President for Administration, to PPCC on March 27, 2018 requesting for ‘No Objection’ to single-source Mwantana Consultant Technology. Upon review of the letter, several issues were observed so PPCC had a meeting with Prof. Boley on April 4, 2018 during which all of the issues were pointed out. Prof. Bolay took notes and promised to address all of the issues and submit all relevant documents,” Jallah averred.
But during announcement of the contract the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mwantana, Vivien Jones, expressed delight over his company’s selection and pledged his commitment to the success of the program.
“Our focus is to do our work and let our customers be our ambassadors. Hopefully at the end of the day, we will have the entire UL family being our ambassadors in terms of how we came in and made things different. The process will involve the students doing their registration and the faculty putting in their grades,” Jones said
Jones continued: “You can register from anywhere. You will go online and plan your courses and after that sit right there and generate your control sheet or bill. Then eventually you will be able to pay online. But like I said this is a journey, and everything isn’t going to happen overnight. As time goes by, you will be able to pay with mobile money or your credit card if you have,” Jones enthused.
The PPCC boss said his Commission has launched an investigation to ascertain the facts surrounding the contract.
He noted that if the contract has been awarded while the University’s request is still being reviewed by PPCC than said contract violates the PPCC Act.
“If this contract has been awarded as alleged by FPA while the University’s request is still being reviewed by PPCC, the award would be inconsistent with the law and would constitute a flagrant violation of the Public Procurement & Concessions Act (PPCA),” Jallah said.
He continued: “If the contract has not been awarded as I have been assured by the UL Administration, PPCC will determine the consistency of the procurement process with the review of the documents to be submitted by the University.”
Upon contacting the PPCC on whether the contract was in compliance with the law, FPA phoned and texted the UL Vice President for University Relations, Mr. Norris Tweah, but the newspaper didn’t get any response up till press time.
The digitizing of UL registration process is part of President George Manneh Weah’s administration pro-poor deliverables under the recast budget.
The government provided US$300,000 to the University of Liberia for Digital Registration and provision of WIFI in key locations of the main campus.
Dr. Weeks thanked President Weah for including the project in his pro poor deliverables and expressed delight in selecting Mwantana as partners in making the digitalization/automation drive of the nation’s premiere institution of learning a reality.