MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 December) – The city council’s blue ribbon committee yesterday made an investigation into the failure of the supplier of a set of equipment and software purchased in 2008 for a Human Resource Management Information System project to comply with the agreed specifications.
Bids and Awards Committee head of secretariat Benjamin Lugto and a consultant of the city government, Eileen Gamo, faced the committee to answer questions on the P2.3-million transaction, which includes the purchase of a biometric daily time record unit.
The committee found out that Gamo and an official of the Human Resource Management Office, end user of the MIS, have apprised city government officials, including then mayor and now Bukidnon 2nd District Rep. Florencio T. Flores Jr., about the failure of Emcor, the supplier, to customize the unit and to provide technical support as indicated in the purchase order.
Gamo said the project aims to address concerns regarding the payroll system, time and attendance, leave administration, benefits administration, training and development, performance evaluation, and employee database.
“It is also meant to eliminate ghost employees or make it difficult for them,” she added.
She said the problem is not with the concept or the technology as it reportedly went through proper procurement procedures.
“The problem is with the quality. I agree it’s the after sales services,” she said.
Lugto, for his part, explained to the city councilors the process that the project went through under the BAC.
He later clarified that the project cost is not only P833,000 as reported by the HRMO officer a week before. He showed a copy of the purchase order saying it is actually worth P2.3 million.
This irked Councilor Perla Rubio, who chairs the council’s ways and means committee. She said purchases above P500,000 need the approval of the city council.
Lugto admitted the transaction did not go through the city council. But he maintained there was nothing irregular about it except that there was a problem with the supplier.
“But why was there no action done on the problems of the project? Despite the delays and violations in the purchase order why didn’t the Bids and Awards Committee move for the termination of the contract?” Councilor Jay Warren Pabillaran asked Lugto.
Lugto said he could not answer the question because he is only head of the BAC secretariat and was not privy to the decisions of the BAC members.
Gamo said the city government has commissioned instead its existing MIS software.
“It is really the equipment that is the problem,” she said. “If it has been customized to our requirements, it must have worked well, and then must have been very user-friendly,” she added.
She cited that in a project with a former client, they had enough technical people in the BAC that’s why the outcome was good.
She initially refused to qualify what went wrong with project but later said it was the choice of the supplier.
“Will you buy from someone who does not have as core business your equipment, because if you do so, you will be in trouble,” she said.
According to Lugto’s presentation, only Emcor was able to bid for the three lots of the project after two rounds of bidding procedure.
Based on figures obtained by MindaNews, the original amount of the three lots was P1,795,400 not P2.3 million. But this was not discussed in the session.
Lugto also asked to be interviewed later.
He said the best persons to answer the questions raised by the councilors include the HRMO chief and the BAC officials.
The project was awarded on January 30, 2008 to Emcor Malaybalay.
Emcor had delivered Lot 1 and Lot 2 of the project except Item 12 of Lot 2 (HRMIS software).
In June 2009, the software was turned over to HRMO but subsequent test runs found glitches in its efficiency, practicability and performance.
On August 11, 2009, the BAC gave Emcor a “five-day ultimatum” to fix their system or risk termination of contract. But Lugto said the city government gave Emcor more time to comply.
As of April 2008, Emcor had incurred liquidated damages of around P62,500 due to the delays.
The blue ribbon committee wrapped up the inquiry Tuesday with an intention to continue the investigation in the next session.
Meanwhile, Councilor Roland Detecio said the city council will pursue its investigation of the unfinished P225-million city public market. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)