Senator Francis Tolentino has filed a bill seeking to abolish the Procurement Service of the Department of Management and Management (PS-DBM) amid a series of controversies hounding the said agency.
Under Tolentino’s Senate Bill No. 1802, “all procurement of goods, including common-use supplies, materials and equipment, and infrastructure projects shall be undertaken by the respective departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, state universities and colleges, government-owned and / or -controlled corporations, and local government units.”
In his explanatory note, Tolentino, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, cited several observations found by the Commission on Audit (COA) in recent years, documenting how the bidding process became disadvantageous to the national government, especially when such procurement process was channeled through the said government agency.
Some of the notices of disallowances issued by state auditors include the unexpended/unutilized fund transfers totaling P1.976 billion from the Department of Health (DOH) intended for COVID-19 supplies and equipment which remained unremitted to the National Treasury despite the lapse of the validity periods, as well as the anomalous procurement of overpriced laptops public school teachers of the Department of Education (DepEd).
According to the senator, though PS-DBM operates on its own income and does not receive any allotment from the national government, “the agency has, for several years already, been tainted with controversies in the performance of its mandate.”
Last week, Tolentino’s Blue Ribbon Committee report on the laptop controversy recommended the abolition of the PS-DBM and urged government departments, agencies, offices, and other instrumentalities to refrain from delegating procurement tasks and to conduct their own procurement as an exercise of their fiduciary duty to be accountable for public funds appropriated for their respective offices.
Meanwhile, another measure filed by Tolentino seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and provide for more stringent criteria for the eligibility of bidders in the procurement of goods and infrastructure projects for government.
Under Senate Bill No. 1803, “the bids and awards committee (BAC), under special circumstances specified in the implementing rules and regulation (IRR), or its duly designated organic office shall
determine the eligibility of prospective bidders for the procurement of Goods and Infrastructure Projects, based on the bidders’ compliance with the eligibility requirements within the period set forth in the Invitation to Bid.”
While allowed to join procurement projects, the present law according to Tolentino “does not provide specific requirements for the qualification of a joint venture as a bidder,” other than the requirement under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) that the members of the joint venture must be governed by a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA).
“This was the case in the laptop procurement project conducted by the Procurement Service Department of Budget and Management for the Department of Education (DepEd) which was flagged by the Commission on Audit for being overpriced,” Tolentino’s explanatory note read.