Instead of bidding, COA chief wants shopping portal for common supplies
MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Michael Aguinaldo proposed on Monday, December 9, adopting a procedure similar to the shopping portal system for government's airfare needs for the procurement of other common use supplies.
Aguinaldo proposed this on Monday during the Office of the Ombudsman's anti-corruption summit.
"What I do propose is a more practical approach to looking at procurement, balancing efficiency with accountability, and I hope this can serve as starting point," said Aguinaldo, referring to the government fares agreement.
What is the government fares agreement? Under the agreement, the government has an online portal that leads to the websites of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia.
By using this portal, the procuring officer can select the flights, which have discounted prices.
"The process combines efficiency with accountability since the online portal is actually the same as the website, you will know how much the tickets cost to the general public, and the discount ensures that the price is indeed the best available price in the market," said Aguinaldo.
Aguinaldo proposes applying the same system for common use supplies like pencils, printers and other office supplies.
Aguinaldo said the suppliers who will be included in the portal will be approved by the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service, while prices will be set and monitored by the Department of Trade and Industry
Why is it better? Aguinaldo said this could ease the burden of procuring for government.
Aguinaldo said that while Republic Act 9184 or the government procurement law is recognized as a world-class law on procurement, it does not actually prioritize efficiency.
"Government almost never gets the best price in the market. Government only gets the best price from among those who submit a bid," said Aguinaldo.
"You can find that the price of a printer purchased through public bidding is somehow 40% more expensive than just by ordering through Shopee or Lazada. So how can you argue with that if someone points that out 'oh it's overpriced.' Not necessarily because there was bidding," Aguinaldo added.
Aguinaldo said that in the event of failure of bidding, government agencies resort to a negotiated sale "but you're creating opportunities for you know what."
Under the procurement law, the modes of procurement allowed apart from public bidding are negotiated procurement, selective bidding, direct contracting, repeat order and shopping.
"I personally think there must be greater emphasis on the planning aspect, which is really government's weak area, which is a combination of lack of capacity, lack of will and private sector influence," the COA chief said.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires again emphasized on the need for a values formation approach to preventing corruption, rather than pouring resources on the prosecution.
Martires has signed Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and University of the Philippines (UP) to integrate values formation into students' curriculum. – Rappler.com