Procurement of five lakh smart phones for free distribution to women Self Help Groups to create public awareness about various welfare schemes of the Andhra Pradesh government has been put on hold as it lacked requisite financial and administrative approvals.
Four companies had submitted bids in August to supply the mobile phones and SIM cards in response to a tender floated by Andhra Pradesh Technology Services, which functions under the Information Technology Department, for an undisclosed amount.
“The Chief Secretary has raised objection to the floating of the tender without financial and administrative sanction. So we have stalled the process for now,” a top official of the Information Technology Department said.
A senior bureaucrat expressed surprise that the basic norms were not followed as a financial commitment of more than Rs 500 crore was involved.
On July 27, the APTS had invited bids for supply of five lakh 4G smart phones along with data SIM cards in a bundle.
After two extensions, the tender process ended on August 31, with the four companies submitting their bids.
“Though we opened the bids, we could not finalise them.The Chief Secretary raised an objection and we are now in the process of completing necessary formalities,” the IT Department official, who did not wish to be quoted, told PTI.
Asked how the tender was floated without requisite approvals, the official said they wanted to complete the process ‘simultaneously’ to avoid delays.
The 4G smart phones are supposed to be handed over to ‘Saadhikara Mitras’, women from self-help groups, with each being in charge of 35 households. Their responsibility is to act as a bridge between families under their charge and the government.
The APTS was appointed the bid management agency for procurement and the tender was floated on the state’s e-procurement platform. According to the RFP, the chosen contractor would be required to supply 4G smart phones with data SIM cards in a bundle.
The tender process raked up a controversy with some complaining to the state Information Technology Principal Secretary, and also the state’s Chief Secretary, that the clauses in the Request for Proposal document seemed to be loaded in favour of a particular telecom company.
It was during his inquiry into the complaint that the Chief Secretary found out that the IT Department floated the phone procurement tender in violation of the norms, informed sources said. – Business Standard