Liberia: NEC to Re-evaluate Bidders for the Biometric Voter Roll Supplies

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NEC

Monrovia – Cogent sources within both the National Elections Commissions (NEC) and the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) have confided in this newspaper that the NEC may have to redo the reopening of all bids for all the six bidders to come back and re-demonstrate. According to a September 20th, 2022 communication, the PPCC demanded that among other things, its wants to see a video-recorded demonstration before it can give its approval for the Elections body to continue with its process.

Our sources have stated that this will likely hamper the 2023 election timeline for the December 15, 2022 start of voters’ registration.

According to reliable sources, the NEC has asked the PPCC to provide clarity on the requested scope of the re-demonstration and re-evaluation, since the PPCC did not address the questions raised by the NEC in its September 13, 2022, communication to the PPCC. This according to the NEC will enhance transparency, fairness, and accountability in the procurement process.

Questions Raised by the NEC in its September 13, 2022 Communication to the PPCC That It Says Were not Addressed

“If the PPCC still believes that bidders should be called again to redo the presentation of their enrolment and deduplication processes, the NEC raises the following concerns and seeks clarity from the PPCC:

  • Although the PPCC did not comment on the expertise and/or pre-finance capacity of any other bidder, it however commented on the expertise and pre-finance capacity of the selected bidder, the joint venture of Ekemp, INITS, and Palm. The NEC seeks clarity as follows: Is it the position of the PPCC that its September 9th statement on the expertise and pre-finance capacity of the joint venture of Ekemp, INITS, and Palm disqualifies this bidder from further consideration? If the answer is “yes”, should this bidder be invited to redo its enrollment and de-duplication processes as requested in the PPCC’s September 9th communication to the NEC?
  • The Bid Evaluation Panel’s report, submitted to the PPCC on August 30, 2022, informed that three bidders were unresponsive to the pre-finance requirement. Question: Is it the position of the PPCC that these bidders be invited to redo their enrollment and de-duplication processes?
  • Bidders, during their respective presentations of the enrollment/ registration process, were required to start and complete their enrollment and deduplication processes using one of NEC staff. Out of the five bidders, two were unable to complete the enrollment and did not print cards on the spot, as required in the standard bidding document. Question: Is it the position of the PPCC that the two bidders be given another opportunity to cure whatever defects or unresponsiveness they had in their submission and/or previous physical presentation? If so, would it be fair to the other bidders who were responsive during the previous physical presentation?
  • Although the period for filing a protest has not accrued, at which time a bidder may refute the information the Evaluation Panel documented in its report, or refute the authenticity of the three cards that were printed during the physical presentations and submitted to the PPCC, the PPCC casts aspersion on the process by saying that the presentations should have been video-recorded, and ends by requesting a redo of the physical presentations. The PPCC did not, however, cite any provision from the Act that mandates that a bidder’s physical showing of its enrollment process must be video-recorded and that photos taken during such presentations cannot be honored. The PPCC is therefore requested to cite which provision of the Act or Regulations it is relying on to make such a request.
  • The Evaluation Panel’s report shows that bidder Laxton Group Limited was unresponsive during the physical presentation in that it used a laptop rather than a tablet with fingerprint scanner as required in the standard bidding document. The PPCC, however, referenced a June 30, 2022 email exchange between Laxton and staff of NEC regarding the removal of tripod requirement from the tablets, and stated that such exchange “can be construed as an option that a laptop could also be provided by a bidder.” Having offered this statement, the PPCC concluded however that “there is no evidential showing that this clarification was conveyed to all bidders, as required by PPCA Section 33(2)”. The NEC views the quoted statements as contradictory and therefore seeks clarity from the PPCC: Is it the position of the PPCC that the June 30, 2022 email exchange — assuming but without agreeing that same could be construed as an option — takes precedence over the technical specification in the standard bidding document, requiring the use of tablet with fingerprint scanner?
  • Should Laxton be invited to redo its enrollment/registration process? If Laxton is to be invited to redo its presentation and shows up with the required tablet this time around, should the NEC allow Laxton to use the tablet? If “yes”, would it be fair to the other bidders who are aware that Laxton used a laptop during the previous presentation and as such was evaluated as being unresponsive in this matter? Also, should the other bidders be given another opportunity to cure whatever defects or other unresponsiveness they had in their submission and/or previous physical presentation?”

The Commission says it prides itself in conducting free, fair, and transparent elections, and that it had worked within the confines of the law to be fair to all bidders. “Fairness to all bidders, including the joint venture bidder evaluated as most responsive, requires the NEC and the PPCC to act on the actual facts of the procurement process, and review a bidder’s submission in its entirety.

As shown in its joint submission and highlighted in this communication, the joint venture of Ekemp, INITS, and Palm has demonstrated the capacity to pre-finance and has the requisite expertise, knowledge, and experience to perform as required.”

But the PPCC in its September 20, 2022, communication to the NEC maintained its position for a video-recorded demonstration of the physical presentations, and for a reevaluation.

Consequently, the NEC has reported that it will invite all bidders to re-demonstrate as requested by the PPCC since it is the regulatory body for procurement processes.

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