COA seeks Ombudsman probe into P6.6-M DOTC IT contract

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) wants the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the alleged "invalid" P6.635-million IT procurement contract of the then-Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in July 2010.

In a resolution dated February 20 but released to the media only in April,  COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Roland Pondoc affirmed COA's notice of disallowance issued against the DOTC on July 19, 2010, citing violation of Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

“In view of violation of law and regulations, specifically RA No. 9184, this case shall be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for investigation and filing of appropriate charges, if warranted, against the persons liable,” COA said. 

COA said the DOTC – which was split into two departments in May 2016 – failed to observe proper procurement regulations and denied motions for reconsideration filed by finance officials and members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and the Technical Working Group (TWG) in relation to the procurement of IT equipment in July 2010.

One of the BAC members is John Castriciones, now agrarian reform secretary. The others and their respective positions at the time the procurement was made are the following:

State auditors said the invitation to bid for the procurement of IT equipment was not posted on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS), as required by the law.

They also noted that the IT equipment had been delivered ahead of the completion of the purchase orders.

COA said the concerned officials filed their appeal only 338 days after the receipt of the notice of disallowance, nearly twice as long as the maximum allowable period for appeal which is 180 days.

It also said the petitioners "failed to present valid and compelling justification in incurring delay that will warrant the liberal application" of procedural rules, and broke rules meant “to preserve the integrity and the faith of the general public on the procedure” of bidding for government contracts.

“The said omission committed by the BAC Secretariat renders the procurement process invalid, for which the members and the TWG shall be held liable,” the COA also said.

The DOTC was split into the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in May 2016. – Rappler.com