Speaker seeks to loosen procurement rules for calamities, cheap purchases
Vince F. Nonato
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has filed a bill proposing to loosen restrictions on negotiated procurement in cases of “extreme urgency and necessity,” as well as allow the government to skip public bidding in purchasing cheaper goods.
House Bill No. 5521 seeks to amend several provisions of Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, which was enacted in 2003.
The law considers negotiated procurement and direct contracting as alternative procurement methods to public bidding. The former refers to the method used in extraordinary circumstances such as during the failure of bidding and in times of emergency.
Under Alvarez’s bill, negotiated procurement will be allowed “before, during, or after a calamity.” Currently, this mode is applicable “during a state of calamity,” which requires an actual declaration by the affected government unit.
Alvarez said in his explanatory note that current regulations “unduly delay and hamstring the delivery of services” in times of calamity.
Meanwhile, the measure also provides for an additional criteria to resort to direct contracting, which currently sees the agency ask for a price quotation from the exclusive supplier of goods of critical or proprietary nature.
Alvarez’s bill seeks to also allow direct contracting of goods when they are sold at prices that are not higher than the fixed industry prices or suggested retail prices set by government authorities such as the Department of Trade and Industry or the Department of Health.
To prevent “potential abuse” of the bidding exemption, the bill seeks to task the Government Procurement Policy Board to identify goods and services that may be subject to direct contracting.
Skipping the bidding requirement for cheaper goods is meant to “expedite bureaucratic processes where the need for public bidding has been rendered unnecessary which are priced equal to or lower than the Suggested Retail Price,” Alvarez explained in his note.
The measure also seeks to require the bids and awards committee to “consider the quality of the goods in relation to their respective calculated prices” in ranking the bids from lowest to highest.
Alvarez explained the bill aims to ensure thay quality of the goods is “not sacrificed as [the Government] pursues the best price.”
The assessment will be made based on guidelines by the GPPB. This will be applicable to both public bidding processes and alternative procurement methods under Alvarez’s proposed measure.
The bill amends the governing principle of procurement to promote competitiveness “in providing the best quality of goods and services at the most advantageous terms for the government.”
It also expands the restriction on bidders’ relationships with the procurement officers. Under Alvarez’s bill, the bidding corporation will have to swear that its officers are not related to the head of the procuring entity, the members of the bids and awards committee, and the members of the BAC technical working group by consanguinity or affinity up to the third civil degree.
Common-law relationships will also be included under such disclosures. Currently, the restriction applies only to those related to the head of the procuring entity. #