Problems persist with government tenders

Procurement issues continue to plague government tenders as government agencies once again get called out for not adhering to proper procedure.

Despite increasing criticism over the past few years, The Public Accounts Committee which recently released the annual Auditor-General report on government tenders, calling out several government agencies as being in violation of guidelines.

The Straits Times reported that some key lapses that were noted include failing to evaluate tenders properly and allowing bids after the tender had closed. Some ministry bodies had also been also been criticised for not disclosing evaluation criteria in the tender documents.

Ministries which faced criticism included Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Environment and Water Resources; Ministry of Home affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to local newspaper Today, PUB was one of the sectors in the government body that was criticised for irregularities where approval for purchases were not sought. Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources responded stating: “PUB has issued letters of warning to officers for making split purchases and would take disciplinary action against officers who repeatedly fail to comply with procurement procedures.”

This is an issue that trickles down to the marketing industry, with many agencies relying on government tenders as their bread and butter accounts. (Read also: Government tenders: What needs to be fixed? and Government tenders: The industry responds)

Government bodies respond

Earlier, Marketing spoke to several government agencies regarding their procedures for marketing and advertising pitches.

A spokesperson for the Economic Development Board had said the procurement for the public sector is based on the principles of open and fair competition, transparency and value for money, and as a statutory board, it adhered to the same “rigorous process” in evaluating tenders.

“In our appointment of marketing agencies specifically, we ensure that we provide clear specifications on the scope of work required. The tender documents also clearly outline the evaluation processes and criteria.”

All suppliers are given the same information to prepare their bids to prevent discrimination in favour of or against any suppliers and that third-party consultants are engaged for major tenders to ensure objectivity in the overall procurement process.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) also said it maintains a strict approval process and standard operating procedures to ensure the integrity and objectivity of its marketing tenders. This included, but not limited to, having approving authorities who were independent of the evaluation panel, and dedicated procurement and legal divisions to provide counsel and support.

A Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports spokesperson also said its processes are the same as any other government agency as according to the Ministry of Finance procedures and that there is “no exception to the rules”.