Dr. Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, the Chairman of the Independent Procurement Review Panel (IPRP), has revealed that the “Free Quality Education Project” failed to follow procurement guidelines. In a ruling, Dr. Abdulai stated that the evaluation committee of the procuring entity did not adhere to stringent procurement guidelines and allowed bidding institutions to progress from the technical to financial evaluation stage without proper scrutiny. The panel advised the procuring entity to conduct due diligence during the evaluation process to ensure that only qualified bidders progress to the next stage, thereby avoiding any misperceptions.
The ruling came about after Grace Mack Engineering and Construction Services filed a complaint with the IPRP regarding alleged procurement irregularities in the process. According to the report, the Free Education Secretariat advertised a bid in September 2022, inviting competitive expressions of interest for the construction of classrooms, administrative blocks, and wash facilities in Kono District.
Grace Mack Engineering and Construction Services submitted a bid expressing interest in constructing the required facilities on December 22, 2022. After expressing interest, they were invited to a bid opening by the procurement committee. Bids were opened in the presence of all bidders.
During the bid opening, it was alleged by the complainant that Yorma Engineering and Construction Services did not include a Power of Attorney, which was a conditional requirement. However, Grace Mack Engineering and Construction Services argued that they had complied with this requirement. After the evaluation process, the respondent informed them in a letter dated April 28, 2023, that their entity was unsuccessful.
After a day’s hearing, the IPRP concluded that Grace Mack Engineering and Construction Services did not have a case as they had violated the instructions of the Technical Board and sections 21(1) and 21(5) of the Public Procurement Act of 2016.
The panel found that the Power of Attorney was indeed included in the bid data sheet and that its absence was not a reason for disqualification. It also noted that the appellant had difficulties understanding the technical language used in the bid document, which led to their unintentional non-compliance with simple instructions, such as the requirement for core staff to have a Higher National Diploma instead of an Ordinary National Diploma, as submitted by the appellant.
As a result, the panel ordered that the previous winner be awarded the contract.