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Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission

Kenya: Oswago Tells EACC of Bad Blood Between Staff, Supplier


AllAfrica.com

BY DOMINIC WABALA, 15 AUGUST 2013

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chief Executive Officer James Oswago has revealed the “acrimonious” working relationship between the commission’s Director for ICT and representatives of the company that was awarded the tender to supply election equipment.

Oswago’s statement to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission that is probing the pre-election procurement process at IEBC delves into the behind the scenes intrigues that surrounded the delayed procurement of the equipment, the change of specification for the kits and why they failed to perform as expected.

Oswago said this bad blood between the ICT director Dismas Ong’ondi and employees of Face Technologies (Facestec) caused a delay in the delivery of the kits which arrived a month before the election day.

“The director ICT raised most of the issues which had already been answered by Face Technologies. I may add that the relationship between Dismas and Face was sour/antagonistic for some reasons I never understood. The issues he was raising were relevant, but it was his duty to fully engage and provide a solution e.g. the CEO had to get personally engaged in the effort to get Face to deliver the EVID fully configured and load the final BVR Register per polling station at Kasarani, a function which would have been done by the Director himself and I later delegated that to be headed by Shollei/ICT managers,” Oswago said.

The CEO attributed the delay to request by the Directorate of ICT late changes of data without prior notification. “I stated that Face too are frustrated by poor response on critical issues from ICT Directorate and I had seen evidence of it as in the exchange of several emails between Dismas and Face Technologies in which Face lists clear instances of promises made but not fulfilled by ICT, late changes to the data on file without prior notification forcing Face team to redo some work afresh, areas where in correct data was sent to Face Technologies. Finally the Director ICT was never involved at all in the setting up of the EVID data processing centre at Kasarani Sports Complex,” Oswago says in his statement.

The CEO also blamed the failure of the Electronic Voter Identification Devices (EVIDs) during the March 4 2013 election on human error owing to inadequate training of poll clerks.

“The gadgets did not fail- human error resulting from insufficient training caused the problem. I can state that the EVID equipment hand held or laptop worked very well in all cases where charging issue was addressed. Indeed, in elections for CAW conducted in Kuria EAST AND Samburu, three week after the March 4th polls, the EVID worked perfectly well,” Oswago said.

The IEBC CEO said that the delivery of the kits was delay for over 30 days because a complaint had been lodged at the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) challenging the award of the tender to Face Technologies while the ICT director constantly faulted any efforts by the South African company as they tried to deliver on time.

Oswago said that he delegated the EVID project to the IEBC Deputy Commissioner Secretary-Support Services Wilson Shollei and was not involved in some of the communication between Face Technology and IEBC.

The IEBC CEO told the investigators in his statement on June 28 2013 at 9:30am that on December 5 2012, he received a memo from Deputy Commission Secretary Support Services Wilson Shollei requesting him to authorize transfer of US $ 16,651,139 (Sh1.4 billion) to the Commission’s Kenya Commercial Bank account No. 1117602532 University way branch to complete the contractual obligation with Face Technology.

“I am aware that on December 05, 2012 the DCS-Support Services, Mr Wilson Shollei wrote a memo to me requesting for authority to transfer funds amounting USD 16,651,139.3 to the Commission account No. 1117602532 at KCB University Way. The Commission was in the process of entering a contract with Face Technologies to supply EVID and the contract required irrevocable letter of credit. Subsequently, I gave the approval on December 05, 2012 partly because I had earlier assigned Shollei responsibility to manage EVID procurement and implementation and partly because I had received verbal briefs from him that the vendor had specifically asked for an LC in the contract. This information was also included in the memo. I can see on the memo produced before me here today, Shollei gave instruction for voucher preparation to the Director manager Finance on 10th December and he has signed for the accounting officer. I am seeing this for the first time,” Oswago said in his statement.

He also denies being aware of the US$ 15 per kit for some rubber protection which is tax exempt yet the other items are taxable.

Kenya: Minutes reveal how IEBC bought pollbooks


Standard Digital

By Moses Michira and Paul Wafula

March 26, 2013

NAIROBI, KENYAThe electoral commission, which conducted the March 4 General Election, bought voter identification gadgets without testing their technical capability.

Face Technology, the South African firm that supplied the equipment also known as poll books, won the tender before a technical evaluation was conducted among the five prequalified bidders.

A review of the tendering procedure by the public procurement regulator found out the tender to supply poll books was awarded to the South African firm, which participated in the Anglo Leasing scandal, on September 29 last year, three weeks before the technical evaluation among the shortlisted bidders.

This major procurement breach ensured firms that were to later demonstrate their capabilities for the task, like America’s Avante and France’s Safran Morpho were left out.

The public procurement regulator, however, found out IEBC had actually made its decision to award the tender to Face Technology more than three weeks before the October 22 demonstration of technical capabilities.

Minutes from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC and presented by Avante to the regulator indicated that the tender was actually awarded on September 29.

“…bidder number 3 M/S Face Technology be considered for the award of the contract at a total cost of Sh1.397724925 ($16651139.13),” reads part of the official information from IEBC’s September 29 meeting.

The regulator says since a decision had been made, the exercise of proof of concept was meaningless becauseFace Technology, whose devise had failed, had been shockingly declared the winner. The revelation now provides the critical answers to the billion-dollar question, what exactly went wrong in the voter identification during the last General Election conducted by IEBC?

The public procurement regulator fell short of cancelling IEBC’s tender, only allowing it to proceed in the greater public interest considering the time left, on its December 3, last year, terse ruling. IEBC’s defence was that Face Technology had the lowest quote at Sh1.39 billion disregarding its inability to produce the required equipment, compared to Safran Morpho’s Sh1.6 billion and Avante’s Sh2.1 billion.

Questionable tendering

IEBC’s motivation in awarding the tender to Face Technology was questioned by the regulator who established an uneven playing ground in the procurement process. Face Technology had presented a prototype that never worked at the tendering stage, but the IEBC inexplicably offered the firm another chance to demonstrate its technical capability.

A meeting between IEBC and the three prequalified bidders held on October 10, last year indicated Safran Morpho declined to parade its prototype, while Face Technology’s equipment fell short of the requirements in the tender document.

“(Avante’s prototype) can satisfactorily meet the specifications provided in the tender document for voter identification device,” further reads the report. “( Face Technology) did not demonstrate a prototype that met the proof of concept requirements as stipulated in the tender document.”

IEBC invited Face Technology and Safran Morpho in a subsequent demonstration, leaving out Avante, which had demonstrated its technical capacity, in a meeting held on October 22. Minutes of the meeting show Face Technology presented a different device from that submitted during the close of the tender, a major procurement breach, which the IEBC turned a blind eye to.

During the evaluation,Face Technologyprovided a prototype device, which lacked a spare power back-up of 12 hours that was marked as critical. It also did not have an original battery attached to the laptops that would last for 12 hours.

The device it supplied at this stage did not meet the requirement that its start-up and recovery time would last less than 30 seconds. This means the prototype ofFace Technology was taking longer to start than required. None of the companies that qualified for the second round of evaluation also provided gadgets that had unique identification numbers assigned by the manufacturers. Lack of this detail exposes the gadgets to difficulties in tracing the user and location in case they are used to hack into the system. The Board accuses the IEBC of being cosy with Face Technologyand finding small excuses with the other companies to disqualify them.

“It (IEBC) appears to have adopted in the processing of this tender, a scheme of nit-picking, when it came to the tenders of the bidders it did not favour, and one of cosiness when it came with the successful bidder (Face Technologies),” a report, critical of the process, reads in part.

The revelations come at a time when it emerged the electronic voting and transmission system could have been attacked at least twice before it finally crashed at 8pm on Election Day.

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