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Questions on the electronic procurement system

AVAILABLE. Promoting local software development companies can’t just be done by attracting overseas contractual jobs here. Local government units (LGUs) should do their part to ensure that the opportunities they bid out will also be made available to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

LGUs have been issuing invitation to apply for eligibility and to bid for various automation and computerization programs. These projects are multi-million in nature. As a result, Cebu Software Association president Mike Jurado believes, “Selected Manila-based IT companies and institutions end up having exclusive access to billions of e-government related projects and hardly any will trickle down to the already helpless local software development industries.”

The Procurement Law states “Prospective bidders should have experience in undertaking a similar project within the last two years with an amount of at least 50 percent of the proposed project for bidding...” To get a P30-million project, one must have completed a P15-million project during the last two years. “How many from information technology (IT) SMEs from Aparri to Jolo have done so? Answer: zero, Jurado emphasized.

Yesterday morning, the Congressional Oversight Committee for the E-Commerce Law met again and tackled the electronic procurement system. Before ending the meeting, the position paper of the Cebu Software Association on this matter was forwarded to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Commission on Audit and National Computer Center for study.

The good thing is DBM already advised that new rules are being drafted so that the qualification criteria will no longer be limited to “experience in undertaking a similar project” based on an amount value. It will eventually accept other factors, such as years of existence, number of projects handled, thereby eliminating value of projects previously handled as a sole basis. Once there’s a clear position on this, I shall write about it here.

However, what LGUs can do is break up their IT projects into components, separating hardware and software, making it accessible for SMEs to qualify. Furthermore, LGUs may also consider partially separating software application scoping and design, testing, coding and implementation, software quality assurance, documentation, among others, in order to ensure that there’s check and balance in the process, increasing their chances of success.

Let us be cautious with our IT projects and prioritize our local players, as they partner with providers in other areas, such as Manila. They are the ones who provide employment, support the business community, perform philanthropic and human resource development work and pay local taxes. Else, all these advocacies will just turn out to be lip service where action contradicts oneself. National and LGUs can take the position to outsource certain percentage of their projects to competitive SMEs and even go down the level of considering women-owned businesses and persons with disabilities. In the end, this is all about trade empowerment that the government is in the position to initiate.

Meanwhile, Hybridigm Consulting is calling all biotechnology scientists to share their ideas in the 2 nd Philippine Biotechnology Venture Summit on Jan. 17 to 20, 2006 at United Laboratories Bayanihan Hall. Twelve slots are available for existing or aspiring biotech entrepreneurs to share their business ideas, to persuade potential investors and obtain funding. Interested parties can email [email protected] Deadline for submission is on Dec. 1.

By Janette Toral
Digital Filipino

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