Monrovia – Liberia’s National Electoral Commission will today begin reassessing the five companies seeking to win the contract to use a controversial biometric voter identification system to prevent voter fraud and mayhem, which have marred previous elections.
In a communication to the six bidders dated September 26, 2022, the NEC evaluation committee wrote:
The Public Procurement Concessions Commission (PPCC) has requested that bidders be re-invited to appear before the NEC Bid Evaluation Committee for a videotaped re-demonstration of the physical presentations, regarding IFB Bid No. NEC/VRPLE/ ICB/)/2022.
In this regard, the Bid Evaluation Committee has scheduled bidders to appear before it on the date and time indicated in the schedule below.
Each Bidder is requested to begin with a PowerPoint presentation regarding the equipment and software to be used, followed by an actual demonstration of their data entry, printing and deduplication process – using one or more persons designated by the jury.
Please have a copy of the PowerPoint presentation (on a USB key) to submit to the Panel on the day of the Presentation.
Please also note that the panel decided to invite stakeholders and others to observe the presentation
The biometric voter registration equipment contract in question is worth nearly $12 million. Six companies – Waymark and Mwetana, HID Global and PSI, Electoral Services International, Network Solutions, Laxton and Ekemp applied and participated in the evaluation process conducted by the evaluation panel, but EKEMP was considered the most responsive, which which has raised concerns from sources following the proceedings.
In recent months, NEC has come under pressure to abandon its Optical Manual Recording (OMR) system. The OMR system, for many, does not improve the accountability and transparency of electoral processes and is generally marred by controversy and mistrust.
“For a year now, efforts have been made to move from OMR registration to biometric technology for voter registration. There are benefits to biometric systems, and we will ensure that they are used correctly for the benefit of all eligible voters and the country at large,” said NEC President Davidetta Browne Lansanah.
The electoral body was forced to reevaluate the bidders after the Public Procurement Concessions Commission (PPCC) urged the NEC to return to the status quo ante and reassess the bill for the purchase of the new system .
In its September 20 response to NEC’s request for reconsideration to allow EKEMP and its partners to continue the contract, the PPCC stated that there was no other way for NEC to adhere to its recommendations. (PPCC) to ensure that the process meets the required criteria. as indicated in the tender dossier prepared by the Commission (NEC).
“The Commission, after comprehensive review and examination of the NEC’s justifications for the re-examination, states that the NEC’s justifications presented cannot be sufficient, as they do not address the anomalies indicated by the PPCC, in accordance with the communication of the September 9, 2022 which established the need for re-evaluation; also considering further demonstration of the performance and functionality of the biometric system,” PPCC Executive Director Jargbe Roseline Nagbe-Kowo wrote to NEC President Davidetta Brown Lansanah .
The PPCC Executive Director added that “NEC should strongly note that the role of the PPCC, under its due diligence obligations and statutory mandates, is to authenticate [that] the bidding processes conducted comply with applicable procedures, in a fair and transparent manner, and that bidders are treated fairly in terms of consideration and consideration of bids.
The PPCC insisted that NEC follow the guidelines in a fair and transparent manner.
NEC accused the PPCC of failing to respond to concerns it (the PPCC) raised that should be addressed. NEC believes this could create obstacles in the future if not addressed now.
In its September 13 letter to the PPCC, the NEC requested clarification on the reassessment and re-demonstration, especially since not knowing exactly what is required could delay the voter registration process.
As the NEC seeks answers on how the PPCC wants it to proceed, the NEC told the Daily Observer that it has agreed to conduct both the reassessment and the new demonstration.
Regarding PPCC’s September 9 statement on the expertise and lack of pre-financing capacity of the joint venture of Ekemp, INITS and Palm, NEC asked that if the answer is yes, if EKEMP is still eligible as the bidder, NEC should indicate this in its response.