PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE Commission on Audit (CoA) said the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) failed to publish eight procurement contracts on the online portal of the procurement policy board, throwing into question the pension fund’s ability to procure and account for pandemic supplies at the most advantageous price.

The CoA said in its 2020 annual report that the contracts left unpublished on the Government Procurement Policy Board’s (GPPB) portal amounted to P17.229 million.

These included the purchase of RT-PCR tests, thermal cameras, and infrared thermometers.

“The objective of the mandatory publication in the GPPB online portal to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Bayanihan Acts, particularly in the government negotiated procurement during the State of Public Health Emergency was not fully achieved,” the commission reported.

Meanwhile, five GSIS procurement contracts funded by the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan II were entered without any certification of preliminary market scanning efforts by the agency to ascertain the prevailing market prices of items to be procured.

These items included rental of shuttle buses for GSIS employees and RT-PCR testing in various GSIS regional offices such as its branches in Laoag and Tuguegarao.

These contracts were worth a combined P1.847 million.

The CoA recommended that the GSIS official in charge of goods and services and the head of the agency’s bids and awards committee immediately post the eight unpublished contracts, submit required documentation on five of the procurement contracts, and require the issuance of a certification stating that GSIS exerted all efforts to obtain the most advantageous price for the government.

Auditors have acknowledged that the eight unpublished contracts have since been posted to the GPPB portal as of Feb. 4, 2021, while the GSIS has submitted the required certifications on the reasonableness of the goods’ prices. — Russell Louis C. Ku