Here is why it too expensive to be ethical

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So many things have happened this week. Below are my selected two events for your leisure.

The re-advertised bid

This is an inventive procurement fraud scheme. This big government entity advertised for the supply of some specialized equipment. This procurement was open international bidding, implying anyone who reads it globally qualifies to bid for the supply of the services.

My company, Summit Consulting Ltd, participated.

There are some bids you read and feel your company has over 90% chances of winning considering your capabilities, experiences, and resources. This was one of them. I liaised with my international partners and put in a bid that was 100% compliant with the specifications in the bid document.  One of such specifications was bid security to a tune of Ugx. 3 million (US $ 1,154). I had my bankers process the bid security. Unknown to me, this was at 10% of the bid security value.  Another catch is you cannot access the bid security money until it has expired.

About a week ago, I received a phone call that after a special meeting attended by the user department and the procurement teams, the bid has been re-advertised. Please come and pick the new bid documents.

Imagine expecting a call that your bid was the best evaluated only to receive the wrong news. I could not just hang up. I had to ask a few questions to make sure my ears are working:

Me: Ok, what has changed in the original bid? Can’t you just use my old bid?
Response: Nothing has changed. You just need to submit a new bid, with a new date.
Me: If nothing has changed in your technical requirements, why submit a new bid?
Response: That is the procedure.
Me: What do you expect me to change in the new bid?
Response: You are not required to submit the bid security.
Me: Why? I would really appreciate knowing?
Response: Of the five bidders, you are the only one who submitted the bid security.
Me: Oh ok. Thanks.
Now that was the worst news I have received. What a price to pay for meeting the bid requirements?

Of course, I have decided to abandon participating in this bid altogether. It is likely that one of the preferred bidders did not submit the bid security, and they had to find a way of selecting that bidder under the guise of ‘we are transparent.’ I cannot help legalize their scheme by participating. Hope their scheme catches up with them in future in line with the boomerang law.

To make sure I forget about this bid altogether, I picked my bid security and took it back to the issuing bank to have it canceled. I was required to pay another 5% to cancel it! That’s how expensive bidding in Uganda can be.

It is tough playing with rough opponents. Call it the cost of fair play.

The cancelled procurement

This is annoying. You go through the entire process and even receive a letter of offer. As you are happy and start on preliminary planning and mobilization to commence the assignment, you get a notification that the bid has been halted, due to some technicality. At first, you think that is a big mistake until you receive an official letter that the bid has indeed been halted. The next thing you hear, the bid has been canceled until further notification.

This just happened recently and it has left me with bidphobia – the fear of submitting bids.

Now, if you are in private business you know what prospecting means. Your budget for the cash flows only to be disappointed at the last minute. It is so frustrating.

But why cancel a bid after sending a letter of offer? I think I am not yet mature to know.

To be continued.


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