Allegations of fraud have clouded the award of a Sh650 million tender by the National Treasury after MPs questioned if the company that won the bid meets the mandatory requirements.
A consortium led by Kingsway Business Systems, which includes Kobby Technologies and Inplenion Eastern Africa, won the tender to offer on-site support for the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis). It won on account of being the lowest evaluated bidder.
IFMIS is an Oracle based digital platform that the government uses to support management of public sector budgetary, financial and accounting operations.
A petition filed in Parliament has seen the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi poke holes into the award process.
The petitioner, Mr Wond Wossen Mesfin, said failure by the Treasury to ensure that the winner meets the mandatory requirements is not only a violation of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act but the constitution.
Mr Mesfin, a director of Transnational Computer Technology, was in a consortium with ADK Technologies for the tender. He claims that as per the tender document, bidders were required to meet a certain threshold of the mandatory technical criteria. He argued before the committee that based on evaluations of the Oracle Partner finder’s website, the Kingsway consortium does not have critical information related to the tender.
“Our consortium fully complied with this requirement. The successful bidder failed to comply,” the petitioner says.
Mr Wandayi and committee members Aden Duale (Garissa Township), Joseph Ngugi (Gatanga) and Dr Eseli Simiyu wondered how the Treasury could overlook the tender documents in awarding the tender. “Why was it so difficult to find out from Oracle if they met the standards?” posed Mr Wandayi.
Appearing before MPs, Treasury Principal Secretary Julius Muia said that the qualifications had been met.
“We wrote to Oracle to confirm the specialty of Kingsway Business Systems,” Dr Muia told the committee. Oracle Technology Systems (Kenya), the owners of the database that hosts IFMIS, and Kingsway Business Systems are yet to honour summons to appear before the committee.
Mr Mesfin notes that had Dr Muia done due diligence and background checks, the Kingsway-led consortium should not have been awarded the tender.
Documents before the committee show that the only services that Kingsway has been providing to the National Treasury for the last 10 years is Group Personal Accident services, which is not related to expertise in IFMIS maintenance and support.
The petitioner further claims that another search undertaken on February 7, 2021 established that the consortium led by Kingsway Business Systems limited does not possess the mandatory minimum qualification to be deemed eligible for the tender.
That the expertise details for Kingsway on the Oracle website do not contain any of the requested products and could not have achieved specialization certificates.
The petitioner notes that if the Kingsway consortium presented “these specialization certificates in their tender document for evaluation then the same certificates are forged.”
“Therefore, it ought to have been disqualified at the preliminary stage and discontinued from further evaluation for failure to satisfy mandatory requirements of the tender document,” says Mr Mesfin.
The petitioner claims that when the illegality was discovered, a complaint was lodged with the National Treasury in August 2020 but has never been acted on to date.
What confuses Mr Mesfin is how both the technical and financial evaluations were undertaken.
Despite lacking experience in the field, Kingsway consortium managed a combined technical and financial score of 92.06 percent compared to 82.19 percent awarded to ADK led consortium.
“As a consequence of the procuring entity’s action of evaluating the tenders in a manner contrary to the objectives of the law it ended up scoring higher points for the successful bidder than they deserved and simultaneously scoring lower points for our consortium,” says Mr Mesfin.
He adds that the procuring entity failed to comply with the due diligence procedure as provided for in the procurement law.
However, documents before PAC show that in March 2020, Kingsway purchased an entry level partnership from Oracle in what appears to be credential acquisitions in preparation for the tender.