NITB to award Rs2bn “National E-parliament system” contract

The National Information Technology Board (NITB) is all set to award an Rs2 billion “National E-parliament system” contract to blue-eyed companies.  

Sources said that NITB has announced the technical evaluation results of the sole bidder on April 28, 2022, just before the Eid holidays, so that no one can file a grievance against the technical evaluation results during the holidays.      

In addition sources said that more than a dozen IT companies including five to six leading national IT companies have participated in the pre-bid meeting related to the National E-parliament system held on March 2, 2022, and reportedly all the leading IT companies protested the eligibility criteria ‘engineered’ to favour the specific bidder, sources claimed.

There were some controversial Joint Venture terms engineered to favour specific bidders like RFP clause 3.7 (C) which is “Financial strength that will be considered only by the Lead Bidder”. 

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Typically, the companies form a JV in order to combine the technical and financial resources. However, such a clause has never been seen before in any of the tenders in Pakistan where the financial resources strength of only the lead bidder is considered, Sources further said that this clause is in contradiction with the spirit of PPRA rules and the Pakistan/PEC Standard Bidding document.

Similarly, there was another controversial JV clause engineered “Joint venture (JV) arrangement maybe to pool their resources (Technical and HR only), however, all the JV companies must be in IT business, and all must be registered with SECP at least for the last 04 years” which means companies can preferably form JV with HR companies to pool IT resources only, which is against the typical spirit of JV arrangement and all must be registered with SECP with a very specific period of time i-e last 04 years.

Sources also said that there were also specific clauses in the 11.1 Eligibility and 11.2 Technical Evaluation Criteria of the RFP which were engineered to give the marks distribution preference to the sole bidder. 

All the bidders requested NITB to give three to four weeks’ extension in the bid submission date in the Software development component E-parliament project as per the meeting of pre-bid minutes however, the department had declined the request for extension in the bid submission date on March 4, 2022, late evening due to which not only the bidders fail to prepare 2% of the bid security amount on the closure of banks. Eventually, NITB received only one bid on March 7, 2022.

After technical evaluation results, NITB opened a financial bid of Rs522 million quoted by firm Abacus, whereas the planning commission in PC-1 allocated Rs212 million for the software development component.

Sources said that NITB has also published another tender “Broadcast Camera, Master control Room, Video Conferencing System, Microphone Conference System & SIS System for Parliament” which is the sub-component of the E-parliament system in parallel dated March 12, 2022.

The tender got extended 3rd time until May 16, 2022, which means NITB was deliberately involved in not extending the Software development component E-parliament project to manage for the sole bidder which is technically more complex and comprehensive than the broadcast, audio-video conferencing and SIS system, sources added.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) government had extended the tenure of acting ED/CEO Syed Hussain Abbas Kazmi, an MP-2 scale officer with a background in HR & Admin,  for the fifth time on the recommendation of high ups of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom.

Sources said that the Prime Minister’s office in January 2022 mentioned while granting the 4th extension for 45 days to Kazmi that no further extension shall be granted for any reason and directed the Ministry of IT and Telecom to appoint the permanent ED. Further, the establishment division observed in their summary to the Prime Minister’s office,  MP Scales Policy 2021 does not contain any provision which allows grant of any charge of a post to an MP Scale holder Syed Hussnain Abbas Kazmi on Special Professional Pay scale Post (SPPS) for ED/CEO NITB. 

Despite the establishment of strong disagreements on the Kazmi extension,  Kazmi got the 5th extension until 19th May 2022. He is also an acting member of the board of esteemed technical organizations PTCL,  NTC,  PITC and ignite despite the fact of his previous employment experience in the educational/ school sector.

The acting ED/CEO while talking to this scribe said that NITB has formed a committee comprising technical and administrative officials of the Ministry of IT&T, Senate, and National Assembly and fulfilled all formalities including keeping in view the PPRA rules in awarding the contract for the Software development component of the E-parliament project.

On the other hand, the NITB extended the date in the “Broadcast Camera, Master control Room, Video Conferencing System, Microphone Conference System & SIS System for Parliament” tender due to OIC holidays as well as a complex model. 

Meanwhile, he also said that any official can become the head of NITB as well as board members of organizations PTCL,  NTC,  PITC and ignite.

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