OPA admonishes GSA for last-minute change to solicitation for golf carts
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz admonished the General Services Agency for its last-minute change to an emergency solicitation for procurement of golf carts to be used for roving Covid-19 response.
While upholding GSA’s decision to award the contract to a selected bidder based on what was determined to be an "urgent need,” the OPA took the agency to task for its failure to indicate the immediacy of delivery in its initial request for quote.
"The public auditor found that GSA’s error is unacceptable, but not against the law," OPA said in a decision released today, dismissing the appeal filed by Turfco, which was among the bidders.
"GSA is admonished for this error and should be more prudent in providing potential bidders the accurate information timely so they can submit their best bid as possible," OPA said.
The admonition stemmed from Turfco’s protest against GSA’s award of the bid to Guam Auto Spot, citing a “substantive change” made to the specifications after bidders have submitted their quotes.
Responding to Turfco's June 12, 2021 request for clarification about the delivery date, GSA said the “preferred ETA is 30 days from the date of purchase order award.”
However, Turfco noted that GSA added the “immediate delivery” clause two days after it received a quote from Guam Auto Spot on June 14, 2021. Guam Auto Spot's submission indicated a promise of “immediate delivery.”
GSA subsequently noted the oversight, acknowledging that “emergency procurement” and the “immediate delivery” were not specified in the initial solicitation sent to potential bidders on June 14, 2021.
“As soon as they noticed the error, GSA immediately notified all potential bidders through email, albeit on June 16, 2021, at 5:43 p.m. (after working hours) and one day before the RFQ deadline of 5 p.m. on June 17, 2021, it was an ‘emergency procurement’ with ‘immediate delivery,’” OPA noted.
GSA argued that bidders were aware it was an emergency procurement because the RFQ's email subject line indicated “emergency." GSA said it believed it was 0 sufficient to let potential bidders know that it was an emergency and emergency procurement means “right away.”
GSA issued the solicitation on behalf of the Department of Public Health and Social Services.
OPA noted that the procurement record did not include "determination of need for emergency procurement to justify the urgent need to purchase golf carts in June 2021 when testing and vaccination started months prior in 2020."
However, at a hearing held on Dec. 16, 2021, officials of the Guam Homeland Security testified that DPHSS has always needed golf carts for Covid-19 reponse operations at testing and vaccination sites.
The department was initially borrowing resources from other agencies and private businesses, officials told OPA. “It wasn’t until after the initially borrowed golf carts were asked to be returned that DPHSS urgently needed to purchase their own golf carts which was in June 2021," they added.
OPA was convinced that the golf carts were "urgently needed," agreeing that the bid was awarded "to the firm with the best offer, as determined by evaluating cost and delivery time." OPA pointed out that Guam Auto Spot offered "immediate delivery."
OPA dismissed the argument presented by Turfco’s Juan-Carlo Pangelinan, who testified that he didn’t see the email from GSA on June 16, 2021 because it was after hours and he was having family time.
"However, the public auditor finds Mr. Pangelinan’s explanation that he did not see the email notifying bidders that it was an emergency procurement with 'immediate delivery' on June 16, 2021 as not persuasive because he also testified he adjust his work days to be able to respond to business in the Philippines, which is two hours behind Guam time," OPA said.