GeneralLiberia news

NEC challenges PPCC

-to cite provision calling for video-recorded bid

By Jonathan Browne

As the National Elections Commission and the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission move back and forth in the qualification of a company to conduct Biometric Voter Registration for the 2023 elections, the NEC observes here that the PPCC failed to cite any specific provision in its Act that requires video-recorded presentations of the bidding process, a key contention that has seemingly stalled the entire process.

The PPCC had requested a redo of the bidders’ presentations on ground that the previous demonstrations were not video recorded.

But the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah, notes that being fully aware that no provision of the Procurement Act requires presentations before bids Evaluation Panel to be video-recorded, the NEC asked the PPCC to cite the specific provision of its (PPCC) Act that requires such, something, she says, the PPCC has failed to do other than resting on the general claim of ensuring fairness to all bidders, even though no bidder had filed any complaint.

Addressing a news conference Tuesday, 25 October at the NEC Head Office on the status of the biometric procurement process, Madam Brown explained that

Section 27 of the Public Procurement and Concessions Act empowers the Procurement Committee of the NEC to establish Bid Evaluation Panels, and in keeping with this section, the procurement committee constituted a Bid Evaluation Panel comprised of five employees of NEC to evaluate bids received for the supply and delivery of biometric equipment and software for the 2022/2023 voter registration exercise. 

She continues that Section 27 of the Procurement Act also states that the Procurement Committee of a procuring entity shall receive the reports and recommendations of the Bid Evaluation Panel and make recommendations for contract award.

“After taking receipt of the Evaluation Panel’s report, the Procurement Committee of the NEC reviewed the standard bidding documents; the proposal of each bidder and finding that the Panel’s report is supported by the record, the standard bidding documents and the Act, the Procurement Committee, by a unanimous vote endorsed the Evaluation Panel’s report and recommendation.”

According to her, the original Report shows, among others, that only Electoral Services International (ESI), the joint venture of Professional Services Inc./HID Global, and the joint venture of EKEMP/INITS/Palm met the pre-finance requirement, as  PSI/HID Global did not print cards on the spot and did not complete the deduplication process, while the joint venture of Waymark Infotech/Mwetana did not meet the pre-finance requirement; did not print cards on the spot, and did not complete the deduplication process as required, thus she says four of the five bidders were completely outside of NEC’s stated time for work delivery.

She says on August 31, 2022, the NEC then wrote the PPCC a bidder-specific letter, requesting a “letter of no objection” to award the contract to Ekemp/Inits/Palm as the most responsive bidder, but clarifies that the Commission did not, and has not awarded any contract to the recommended bidder or to any other bidders in the process, adding “Moreover, the original report shows that only Ekemp/Inits/Palm and ESI made it to the final stage of the evaluation.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, after several written exchanges between the PPCC and the NEC, the PPCC requested a redo of the bidders’ presentations on ground that the previous demonstrations were not video-recorded”, Madam Brown further observes.

However, she says amidst the excitement of being a part of the re-demonstration, no one raised qualms for the PPCC to provide legal support for its position that the presentations must be video-recorded, or to ask why the PPCC knowingly provided an opportunity to certain bidders to cure their defects or perform otherwise, except the Liberia Election Observation Network (LEON).

According to her, LEON noted that whilst section 43(8) of the Act gives the PPCC the authority to inspect records and documents maintained by procuring entities, it is unclear whether the PPCC on its own and without a third-party’s complaint, can outrightly reject an Entity’s no objection request based on insufficient documentation, more specifically “video documentation.”

She quotes LEON as proposing that hence, and to avoid opening procuring entities such as NEC up to court processes by dissatisfied bidders, the PPCC and procuring entities should sit on agreeable frameworks of documentation for competitive bidding processes prior to publication of tenders, among others.    

But in the insistence of its request for a re-demonstration, PPCC on September 27, 2022, wrote the NEC, stating, “The purpose of the requirement to submit statement of financial position of companies is to ascertain as to whether the bidder actually has the capacity to pre-finance as declared. NEC should in its Re-Evaluation ascertain entities financial capacities through the facts of their financial statements submitted.” 

According to Madam Brown, the BVR project is worth nearly US$12 Million, and that comparative audited income statements of each of the bidders show that only Ekemp/INITS/Palm and Laxton have implemented a project worth this amount in the last two years.

“The PPCC’s request to a re-demonstration could not have been a rejection of the NEC’s August 31, 2022 [request] for a letter of no objection. If this were so, the process would have ended at that time, as the PPCC cannot by its interim statements limit one bidder at the same time to request additional information from all bidders in form of a re-demonstration exercise.”

She also points that after rejecting the NEC’s bidder-specific request for a letter of no objection, the PPCC asked NEC to “select a company” from the remaining bidders.

However, the NEC Chair argues that assuming but without agreeing that the PPCC had the authority to “order” a procuring entity to make a selection after it has denied that entity’s bidder-specific request for no objection, a neutral and detached review of the bidders’ proposals, the original and supplementary reports will show that no bidder met all of the requirements stipulated in the standard bidding documents; and that only two bidders met the pre-finance standard set in the PPCC’s September 27, 2022 communication.


The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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