Tender outcome: you have a right to knowMonday, 15/10/2012 - 13:30
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Dear Corruption Watch
I own my own company and recently lost a tender that we bid for. I suspect that the successful bidder has a relationship with one of the members of the bid adjudication committee. How do I go about finding out who sat on the bid adjudication committee to consider the various proposals? - Disgruntled bidder
Dear disgruntled bidder,
We conducted a little experiment. Corruption Watch decided to see whether we could get the names of a bid adjudication committee selected at random. We chose the city of Johannesburg, Department of Public Works. We started using a combination of the internet and telephone at 10:15 AM and by 10:39 AM we were given an e-mail address with an instruction to put our request in writing to the Director of supply chain management of the city.
To spare you the pain we have the following advice for your particular query: Don't call the anti-fraud hotline. From a conversation with them it appears that they deal only with hard-core fraud, not subtle requests. Do not call the supply chain management unit directly. You will be put through to metro police who will be as befuddled as you will be about why you are asking them the question. Do not search under Department of Public Works and in particular do not consult the document "Hearing Citizens’ Voices". This document tells you how important it is to hear your voice but does not direct your voice to a contact number or e-mail address.
In the end the easiest route was to follow the general number on the city of Johannesburg website for queries. They kindly provided me with a telephone number for supply chain management (remember that supply chain management is where you want to be whenever you are dealing with a tender: both the bid evaluation committee and the bid adjudication committee resorts under supply chain management). The gentleman who picked up the phone was polite when we said good morning but immediately became suspicious when we told him that we were looking for the names of the members of the bid adjudication committee. Trying to mask his suspicion as best he could he asked in a slightly too level voice "is there any reason you would want to know this information? " We replied that we wanted to send them a Christmas card. This appeared to satisfy him because he told us to hold, as if ours was a regularly received request, and said he would put me through to "someone who could help". This someone did indeed help and gave me the e-mail of the director of supply chain management and instructed me to put my query in writing.
We were quite surprised, we must say, that three quarters of the telephone calls we made (about a dozen) were answered. People were generally helpful although they did seem to have a lot of time.
So, in summary, depending on where you have submitted your tender (local, provincial, national, or provincial level) we would suggest you go on the internet and look for the director of supply chain management and submit your query in writing. Information you are seeking is a matter of public record and cannot be refused.
Just remember, if the tender has been awarded you must move quickly because in the event that you want to lodge an internal appeal you usually have to do so within 21 days of the tender being awarded.
Take a stand and report an incident of corruption. This article originally appeared in the Sunday Times Business Times on 14 October 2012.