NIA contracts worth P20B went to ‘ineligible contractors’ – COA

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    A TOTAL of 339 contracts awarded by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) with a total cost of P19.986 billion are being questioned by government auditors for non-compliance with bidding procedures and failure to submit full documentation.

    The Commission on Audit said violations of the 2016 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulation (RIRR) of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act as well as the Manual of Procedures of the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) were committed in awarding of the contracts.

    Auditors said the questioned contracts were awarded by the NIA-Central Office, NIA-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the Agno River Irrigation System Extension Project (ARISEP), the Lower Agno River Irrigation System Improvement Project (LARISIP) , the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (UPRIIS), and NIA regional offices 1, 4-B, 8 and 13.

    “The CO, CAR, ARISEP, LARISEP, UPRIIS, and four ROs awarded 339 contracts with an aggregate contract cost of P19.986 billion to ineligible contractors due to deficient documentary requirement as required by the RIRR of RA No. 9184,” the COA said.

    Aside from incomplete documentation, the audit report also flagged the contracts for “non-compliance with the issuance of bid and performance security before signing of the contract;” violation of procurement timelines; and inadequate procedures in the post-qualification evaluation of winning bidders.

    Among the lacking documents listed were certificates of availability of funds; minutes of pre-procurement meetings; approved feasibility study and detailed engineering design; environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental compliance certificate (ECC); National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee approval; and proof of right of way (ROW) acquisition.

    Reacting to the audit observations, the NIA management acknowledged the delay in the submission of documents saying it was caused by the “re-shuffling of personnel” which necessitated the transfer of documents to different divisions.

    The COA said this is not the first time that the NIA has been called out for similar issues but instead of addressing the problem, the number of violations only multiplied.

    “It bears to emphasize that compared to last year’s report of 106 contracts, the reported 339 contracts during the year increased by 219.81 percent. Consequently, the total contract cost also increased from P4.345 billion to P19.986 billion or an increase of …359.98 percent during the year,” the audit team said.

    Of the total questioned contracts, P17.082 billion was processed through the NIA-Central Office; P1.312 billion through the NIA-Region 1, P209.57 million through NIA-Region 8, and P201.731 million through NIA-Region 4-B.