ID tender hits another snag

MASERU — The multi-million dollar identity document (ID) cards tender is in jeopardy once again.
The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Lesotho has suspended the adjudication of the tender after a second appeal by one of the losing bidders, Gemalto SA.
Although MCA Lesotho officials had not responded to our questions at the time of going to print last night, the Lesotho Times can reveal that the adjudication of the highly lucrative tender was suspended last week after Gemalto filed a second appeal against the MCA’s original decision to dismiss its first objections against the tender process.
The tender, which is understood to be worth more than M100 million, was set to be won by Iris Corporation, a Malaysian firm.
Gemalto, which has the second highest evaluation score, wrote to MCA Lesotho on June 22 saying it wanted Iris disqualified on grounds that it had hosted Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili during his state visit to Malaysia from May 4 to 7.
Mosisili’s delegation had a private dinner with Iris’ senior officials on May 5.
The following day the delegation visited Iris’ offices.
In its appeal Gemalto, a South African company, alleged that Iris had flouted tender regulations when it met the delegation from Lesotho before the bids were evaluated.
MCA Lesotho rejected the appeal on grounds that Gemalto had not launched it within the prescribed period.
MCA Lesotho’s chief executive Sophia Mohapi told Gemalto that they had found no evidence that Iris had “fraudulently influenced the evaluation process”.
“Your claim was filed on the 22nd June 2011, but you were aware of the alleged breach as early as the 3rd June 2011,” she says.
She said MCA Lesotho rejected Gemalto’s claims as “frivolous and without any concrete facts and that it is in the best interest of the project to proceed with finalisation of the rest of the evaluation process”.
But Gemalto did not back down.
It insisted that it had a right to be heard.
Eventually MCA Lesotho agreed to suspend the evaluation process pending the outcome of Gemalto’s appeal.
This paper understands that external experts have been appointed to deal with the matter.
The team, highly placed sources said, is made up of two experts appointed by MCA Lesotho and a representative of Gemalto.
The panel is now considering the details of the appeal and may retain its final verdict before the end of this month.
A highly placed MCA Lesotho source said the panel wanted the MCA to reveal the names of the people who accompanied Mosisili to Malaysia but the MCA was reluctant to do that.  “It certainly could have been one of the three other losing bidders but not Iris.”
Iris Corporation is ahead of its three shortlisted competitors in the race for the supply of the IDs with 100 percent financial score and 88.85 percent average score, which puts it in a position to clinch the deal.
Its technical score is 88.88 percent.
Iris Corporation’s price for supplying IDs is M15.6 million.
Gemalto SA came second in the evaluation with their score slightly behind Iris’ by 0.28 percent.
Gemalto’s financial score is 82.65 percent while the average score is 88.57 percent.
Its price for supplying the IDs is M18.9 million.
The other shortlisted competitors are Germany’s Muhlbauer and Morpho.
This is not the first time that the ID tender has run into trouble.
The first time was when the tender was controversially cancelled as
confidential information was leaked to bidders before the final report was sent to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which finances the project.
The MCC, an independent US foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty, was created by the US Congress in January 2004.
The MCC’s executive arm in Lesotho is the MCA, which was created by the Lesotho parliament.

Comments are closed.