DOTC rebids LTO-IT project: a fishy start for the new year?

A FRIEND told me a story of how he had recently received a surprise letter from Switzerland – the government of Switzerland to be exact – charging him what is worth some P11,000.00 in Euros for a traffic ticket he incurred in his last trip to Geneva.

Apparently my friend was driving a rented car at 100 kilometers per hour (kph) in a 70 kph zone. The letter came with a photograph of his vehicle with details of time, place and speed, as well as instructions on how to remit payment of the fine electronically.

The reason why the fine was such a large amount, aside from the exchange rate, was that it was determined by how high the speed was versus the speed limit.

He promptly paid the fine, fearing that he would be blacklisted from travel there in the future.

Now that’s a traffic management system, I thought. No ifs, no buts. Just have enough evidence, charge ‘em and move on. Whether the fine is paid or not, it will haunt the perpetrator down the road anyway.

The story came at a time when our own department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) announced that they will hold the rebidding of the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) Information Technology system.

LTOstupidplates


From Philippine Star: (http://www.philstar.com/business/2014/01/01/1273927/lto-it-project-cost-slashed-p3.44b-after-2-failed-bids)

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has decided to slash the cost of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) information technology system project to P3.44 billion from the original P8.2 billion after two failed biddings.

The DOTC said it would hold a pre-bid conference on Jan. 20 and open the bid documents on Feb. 18 for the DOTC Road Transportation IT Infrastructure project.

It added that the project involves the customization, development, integration, procurement, supply, delivery, installation, implementation, service and maintenance of the information and communications technology system of the agency.

The winning bidder would design and implement the required databases; establish or set up the LTO Data Center; supply, deliver, test, document, and install appropriate computing products and other resources relative to the implementation of the project on DOTC or LTO IT infrastructure and environment facilities; and deliver all hardware peripherals with software and corresponding licenses in the name of DOTC and warranties to efficiently run the system.

Likewise, the winning bidder would also operate and maintain the IT service delivery for LTO within the period of the contract and identify key processes and systems for the improvement, efficiency, and security of the DOTC or LTO processing.

Once the system is put in place, the DOTC said it would be easier for authorities to recover stolen vehicles, trace smuggled vehicles, prevent double registration, and monitor unregistered vehicles.

I hope that this new IT system brings us somewhere closer to the efficiency of my friend’s Geneva experience. For one thing, it should be able to clean up our own database and help traffic and law enforcement over a hundredfold.

I can’t just help but think that we would have been much closer now if only no hanky panky happened over the previous bidding, especially the last one. We recall that in that last year there was much ado over the bidding because of some strange goings on within the DOTC and the bidders themselves.

Some seven companies paid P1 million each for the bid documents) to prequalify for the bidding. Apparently the hige amount was to weed put the nuisance bidder from the real ones who had the capacity to undertake an P8 billion project. As explained then this was done before a new rule placing a P60,000 cap on bid documents.

The weird thing about it was that when bidding day came about two of the seven backed out – meaning they threw their P1 million to the wind – and did not submit a bid at all. Did they feel they were not capable of undertaking the project? Or did they smell something fishy? Only they can tell why they threw away P1 million just like that. One of these companies, by the way, was Smartmatic, provider of that multibillion COMELEC election automation system.

The bids of the other two companies, Kaisa Consulting and Ceragon Network, were not opened due to lack of requirements.

The remaining three bidders were Fritz & Macziol Asia (F&M) at P5.3 billion), Eurolink at P5.5 billion and Digitext at P3.8 billion.

Digitext went on a media blitz, announcing that it had successfully won the bid, and continued to do so only to be disqualified later by the DOTC because it did not have the most basic documents and clearances such as a new mayor’s business permit and its failure to submit a bill of particulars for their bid. Protest it did, especially in media, but it was a no go. After all, the financial bid was just the first step of the process, the next was the technical bid.

This is where the rest of the bidders were hit. Two months later F&M was disqualified, according to the DOTC, “after it failed the post-qualification process under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.” Apparently, according to DOTC the F&M bid failed to include a number of laptops and some kiosks the agency had wanted.

Still later, Eurolink was also disqualified for some technical reason, although it was pointed out they should not have been qualified to start with because they hold other LTO contracts, namely for smoke emissions testing centers.

Both were wiped off the bidding through the strength of a memo by a DOTC consultant – not a full member of the DOTC, mind you.

So now the DOTC is rebidding the project for P3.44 billion – the question is: will we get the quality of bidders and bids that we should have in the first place? It’s now slashed well under what was originally determined by experts as something that needs P8 billion to undertake. Did they just pull this out of a hat or is there some science to it?

My friend’s Geneva experience shows that what we always dream about is reality somewhere out there, and it works. And in fact it’s no coincidence that F&M Asia, one of the questionably disqualified bidders in the LTO-IT project, is part of that reality. It’s mother organization in Europe is into transport IT systems operating even in – you guessed it – Geneva. As its profile says: Founded in 1987, FRITZ & MACZIOL:INFOMA® currently have over 1,900 clients from local authorities, industry, trade, services as well as banking and insurance. The group of companies has approx. 410 employees based at 16 locations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In the 2005/2006 financial year, the Group recorded a total turnover of 111 million euros.

F&M Asia headquarters are in Makati and provides IT services and products to the top companies in the Philippines and the rest of Asia.

As the new DOTC bidding stands, will a company like F&M rejoin this new effort? Or will it also stay out, having smelled something fishy?

This comes to mind as we have faced a multitude of problems with these delays in 2013 like snags in our auto registration, drivers license issuance and renewal and even auto license plate manufacturing. And what about those hit and run incidents, multiple-death bus accidents and that kid that was shot by an irate driver?

It’s all part of this system – a system that direly needs fixing.

 

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One Response to DOTC rebids LTO-IT project: a fishy start for the new year?

  1. Every time I return to the Philippines and experience the dire traffic in Manila caused by stupid driving and unenforced laws I wish the whole nation of drivers be forced to take their driving tests again, starting with the traffic cops. Fishy? The smell is of corruption, evil and backwardness from the people at the top to the ordinary man on th street. Please naman, gising na mga kabayan! We can’t go on like this. Well. We can and we have. But we won’t be going anywhere.

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