Wednesday, 13th July, 2011 By Brenda Asiimwe
Competition in the procurement process is always stiff, with many contending bidders fighting for a one contract, where usually a single supplier or contractor is required.
This leaves many bidders disappointed, wondering why they did not get the deal. In the end, some of them file for an administrative review of the process by the accounting officer or the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA).
An administrative review is done when there are complaints from bidders, claiming to have lost or are at the risk of losing a tender due to a breach of procurement guidelines by a procuring entity or competitors.
When a complaint is lodge by a disgruntled bidder, the administrative review board re-examines how the procuring entity manageed the process to ensure it was done according to the law.
Jasper Tumuhimbise, a procurement practitioner and the director of Lantern Consult, says according to the PPDA Act of 2003, a complaint by a bidder against a procuring and disposing entity is first submitted in writing to the accounting officer within 15 working days from the date the bidder first noticed the circumstances giving rise to the complaint.
On receiving the complaint, the accounting officer communicates in writing within 15-working days, indicating the corrective measures to be taken, if any.
These include the suspension of the proceedings, where he or she deems it necessary, and giving reasons for his or her decision.
Tumuhimbise notes that if the accounting officer does not make a decision within the given period or if the bidder is not satisfied with the decision of the accounting officer, the bidder can appeal to the authority (PPDA) within 10 working days from the date the accounting officer’s decision was communicated to him or her.
“After receiving a complaint, the authority notifies the respective procuring and disposing entity, suspending the process until it settles the matter,” he explains.
Veronica Byaruhanga, a procurement practitioner in Kampala, notes that the authority, can then annul the tendering process wholly or in part if the the procuring and disposing entity acted unlawfully.
She adds that before deciding on a complaint, the authority first notifies all the interested bidders or representatives from the bidders and the procuring and disposing entity about it.
“The authority must give its decision within 21 working days after receiving the complaint. It also has to give the reasons for its decision and remedies suggested, if any,” Byaruhanga explains.
Disgruntled bidders appeal after paying a fee, usually sh1m.
Byarugaba, however, notes that some bidders do not follow the bidding process properly.
Others are at times be missing the necessary documents, leaving the evaluation committees with not option but to kick them out of the tendering process. Such bidders do not need to file for an administrative review, she explains.
Tumuhimtbise notes that in order to improve the bidding process, the procurement practitioners involved in the process should stop leaking information to the bidders before the award.
“Those in charge of the process should act professionally and keep the bidding documents confidential as required by the law until the award of the contract.” This prevents unnecessary complaints,” he says.
Tumuhimbise notes that a tribunal has been put in place in the new PPDA amendment Act of 2011.
It was sanctioned by the President last month. “This is going to help quicken the appeals process,” he adds.