The Town Council IT System Tender


[This was originally written on March 26, 2013, but kept as a draft giving the powers that be time to revert. Looks like nothing is moving for a country that prides itself on efficiency and fairplay, the AIM saga which has deep links into the ruling party is proving to be a hot potato. The tender has been awarded to the team led by NEC Singapore. No indication that any of this is open source software.]

I thought I should post it now so that there will be transparency in this affair.

The tender for the town council IT system was released on February 4th. I did try to get the tender documents but failed.

Here’s the email flow – minus the recipient info:

1. Feb 26, 2013

Subject: Town Council Management System tender docs

Hi.  I refer to the tender that was called for a new IT system for managing the town council.  I can’t seem to find the document on your website (nor on GeBiz).  Can you please point me to where it is?

Thanks.

2. Feb 26, 2013

Dear Mr Harish Pillay

Kindly contact me regarding your enquiries.

3. Feb 26, 2013

[Person at town council] –

> Dear Mr Harish Pillay
>
> Kindly contact me regarding your enquiries.

Thanks for the reply as well as speaking on the phone earlier.  It is a pity that I can’t participate even though the date is not due yet.

Thanks.

4. Feb 27, 2013

Dear Mr Harish Pillay

As mentioned, the tender is advertised in The Straits Times and Zaobao on 4 Feb 2013.

Interested and eligible tenderers are to attend the tender briefing on 7 Feb 2013 before they are allowed to purchase the tender documents.

Thanks.

5. Feb 27, 2013

[Person at town council] –

> Dear Mr Harish Pillay
>
> As mentioned, the tender is advertised in The Straits Times and Zaobao on 4 Feb 2013.
>
> Interested and eligible tenderers are to attend the tender briefing on 7 Feb 2013 before they are allowed to purchase the tender documents.

Thanks for the confirmation.  I find it strange that even the tender docs are not on GeBiz.  Any reason why there is an exception?

Thanks.

6. Feb 28, 2013

Dear Mr Harish Pillay

We are not a government agency and as such we are ineligible to participate in the Gebiz.

7. Feb 28, 2013

[Person at town council] –

> Dear Mr Harish Pillay
>
> We are not a government agency and as such we are ineligible to participate in the Gebiz.

Thanks for the clarification.

8.  Mar 20, 2013

[Person at town council] –

Hi.  I am writing to you to find out if there has been any submissions to the tender that closed earlier this month.  I’d appreciate if you can tell me who they are and when do you expect the tender to be awarded.

Thanks.

9. Mar 22, 2013

Dear Mr Harish Pillay

The provisional tender result is posted on our Town Council website “http://www.btptc.org.sg/“.

Progress on tenders currently under evaluation cannot be disclosed.

10. Mar 22, 2013

[Person at town council] –

> Dear Mr Harish Pillay
>
> The provisional tender result is posted on our Town Council website “http://www.btptc.org.sg/“.

Thank you.  I assume this is the page: http://www.btptc.org.sg/Tender/0106/A-161.htm

> Progress on tenders currently under evaluation cannot be disclosed.

Certainly.  Is there a way to get a copy of the tender specs to understand what the 3 options are?
Thanks again.

11. Mar 22, 2013

Dear Harish Pillay

Only the eligible tenderers who have attended the tender briefing are allowed to collect the tender documents.

Regards

12. Mar 22, 2013

[Person at town council] –

> Only the eligible tenderers who have attended the tender briefing are allowed to collect the tender documents.

Yes, I understand that. You did indicate that in an earlier email.  But since the tender has been submitted, I am wondering if the document is available, even at a price.

13. Mar 22, 2013

Dear Harish Pillay

The tender documents can only be purchased by the eligible tenderers who have attended the tender briefing.

So, you can see that unless you attended the briefing, you cannot get to the tender documents. I would need to reach out to those who have submitted the tenders to get to the document. Why would this be made so difficult to be acquired? What’s the secret in those documents?

Town Councils exist by virtue of the Town Council Act Chapter 329A. We know the reasons for creating town councils but from the citizen’s perspective the town council is part of municipal government as suggested by former PM Goh Chok Tong:

So in a way, the MPs became the elected representatives of this municipal aspect of government. But more importantly, we also believed in the devolution of powers downwards. This is to give a stake, first, to the MPs, then next to the grassroots leaders, and of course, very importantly, to the residents. This is your Town Council.

So, I think in the email exchange above, the person from the town council is totally wrong to say that they are not a government agency.

The current PM has called for a review of the town council is a good thing as the unstated objectives (“let’s make it difficult to let non-PAP parties win GRCs”) has now gone away.

Talking about the review of of the AIM fiasco, the PM gave the MND two months from January 8. It is now almost end of March 2013 May and thus far nothing has surfaced.

Since there is supposed to be a review of the AIM transaction, is it still appropriate for the 14 PAP run town councils to call for a tender to “replace” the system they already have? Or should it be held off until the review is done. The answer is quite clear.

Switching gears, let’s look at the tender submission result.

Option 1            Option 2               Option 3      Alternative Option

1. NEC Asia Pacific Pte Ltd           –                         –                $17,610,820.00          –

2. HCL Singapore Pte Ltd        $27,549,208.46   $21,063,955.09             –                     –

3. NCS Pte Ltd                             –                         –                $31,485,192.00     $16,798,500.00

Option 1: Ownership model (hardware is decentralized)
Option 2: Software ownership model, hardware service model (hardware is centralized)
Option 3: Software and hardware service model (hardware is centralized)
Alternative: Decentralized solution for 3 years of contract period

On April 2nd, it was announced that the tender was awarded to NEC Singapore. For a lot of money – $16.8 million dollars to be exact. No mention of anything in this being open source, no git repository nothing. No indication of the poison pill clause “if there is a change in the boundaries or management of town councils, the application stops working” etc.

The PM asked for a review of the AIM scandal. Today, May 1st, there is still no sign of it. How long does it take the MND to do the work? I volunteer to do this due diligence. I am sure they will not take this offer, even though it is given in good faith.

4 thoughts on “The Town Council IT System Tender

    1. I am sure they will release something. There are some scenarios that will be interesting. If it is determined that there is indeed an unfair situation, will AIM be penalized? Or will the “coordinating chairman” be taken to task? Another scenario could be that the MND thinks that it is all halal. Then what? Too many possible outcomes and I guess they are trying to find one that would work for the party and the people implicated. The PAP continues to loose credibility and stature as this fiasco gets dragged on.

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